'One day my mortal body will turn to dust, but the Turkish Republic will stand forever,' said Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern nation. As such he is rewarded a special place in Turkish history as the ‘father of the Turks’. Indeed this is what Ataturk, the surname he was given by the people, means. And it’s impossible to be in Turkey without seeing his image wherever you go. His face adorns the currency, both paper and coinage, it’s engraved on plaques, printed on flags, statues celebrating the man are too numerous to count, there is even a shop in Istanbul which has one item on its inventory, gold laminated Ataturk masks. The man is an icon to Turks. He is Turkey and Turkey is him. But for how much longer?
Ataturk’s vision was to reform the crumbling ruins of the former Ottoman Empire into a western-orientated, secular nation-state that embraced democracy and science over ‘superstition’.