Mustafa Kemal Atatürk created a secular republic out of Ottoman Turkey as the Sultanate died in 1921. He was president of Turkey for fifteen years. Now, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won the nation’s first direct presidential election. Erdogan has been prime minister of Turkey since 2003, and he has promised to fashion the role of president — after Atatürk one of little actual authority — into a position of power. To what degree the term “secular” will accurately describe this “new Turkey” Erdogan hopes to create has yet to be seen. But one suspects the father of the Turks would find much about it left to be desired.
The BBC, describing Atatürk’s creation of the modern Turkish state, writes: