POLITICS > Memorial for Atatürk stirs fresh debate


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Potential tensions loom ahead of the 74th anniversary of the death of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, on Nov. 10. The General Staff has announced that ordinary citizens will be allowed entry to Anıtkabir, Atatürk’s mausoleum, only after 10.00 a.m., despite demands from NGOs that a minute of silence be observed in the area at 9.05 a.m., the exact moment Atatürk passed away.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will not be attending tomorrow’s ceremonies in Ankara. He was expected to be back in Turkey for the commemorations but is paying a surprise one-day visit today to Brunei at the invitation of its sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah.

The General Staff, who are responsible for the security of Anıtkabir, announced on Nov. 6 that the mausoleum would be closed to visitors on Nov. 9 due to preparations for the official ceremonies of Nov. 10. Ordinary citizens will be permitted to visit Anıtkabir starting at 10 a.m. on the anniversary of his death, as in previous years.

The statement from the General Staff came after NGOs lead by the Turkey Youth Union (TGB), which was the primary organizer of the Republic Day rally in front of the former Parliament building on Oct. 29, called for a minute of silence in Anıtkabir at 9:05 a.m. on Nov. 10.

Over 50,000 people gathered in Ankara’s Ulus Square in front of the former Parliament building to celebrate the anniversary of the foundation of the Republic, despite the Governor of Ankara’s ban. Police used pepper gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd as they marched toward Anıtkabir.
Official ceremonies are normally held in Anıtkabir every Nov. 10, as dignitaries led by the President observe a minute of silence at 9:05 a.m. Visitors are not allowed access to Anıtkabir for security reasons until 10.00 a.m. However, this year, NGOs demanded to be allowed to observe a minute of silence at Anıtkabir and the TGB announced that they will be there at 9:00 a.m.

Anıtkabir security officials reportedly denied that there was a ban on visitors, indicating that they are applying the same procedure as they did previous years.


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Notice on comments

Aryeh Rapaport

11/9/2012 3:33:24 PM

It seems like Islamists dont want to bow in front of idol; wants to distance itself from secularism, secular festivities. Erdogan mysteriously goes on a 1 day trip. There was no other day, time in year- he had to be there at that time. Its funny to see Turkic style politics. Why does Erdogan keep on playing it like a moderate. Its time for him to tell truth to world - Erdogan is Islamist, promotes religious school, teachings, holidays & does NOT like, support, want secularism or secular hilidays

mara mcglothin

11/9/2012 3:26:14 PM

BMEDIC I think some people are starting to wake up and be extremely sensitive to any dishonoring of Ataturk, so while this is the same procedure as in years past, some people want to make a poiht. I am not familiar with the TYUnion group, and I hope they will conduct themselves properly and not embarrass Turkey on this very special day. Backward mentality does cross political boundaries.

B Medic

11/9/2012 11:23:20 AM

Is this news? I do understand that AKP is working to decrease the influence of Kemalism (which is still very strong) in Turkey. But in this case, no change from previous years' procedures will be made. President Gül will honor Atatürk the same way as Sezer, Demirel and previous presidents have done and then the public will be allowed to enter the monument just like in previous years. So what is the problem?

mara mcglothin

11/9/2012 5:50:41 AM

So stand in the streets in front of his tomb! Don't split hairs, BUT at the same time do NOT allow anyone to dictact how you honor the greatest statesman of our time. Turkish everywhere should be proud of his accomplishments and what he was able to achieve in such a short time.
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