Thousands of Turks rushed to Thessaloniki on Friday, November 10th, to honor the anniversary of the passing of Turkey’s historic leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
Waving Turkish flags and singing traditional songs in his honor, Turkish nationals flocked to the house which is regarded as Atatürk’s birthplace and now houses Turkey’s consulate in Thessaloniki.
The streets around the house had become jammed with tourist buses, and some streets were closed to traffic to accommodate the high volume of guests, according to the Athens-Macedonian news agency.
Visitors from Turkey flooded Apostolou Pavlou Street and celebrated the memory of Atatürk with fervent events. Some of them wore T-shirts with the former leader’s image and were photographed outside Atatürk’s House.
Among the visitors were many students and school teachers from every corner of the neighboring country. All came to pay homage to the founder of modern Turkey.
“We came from Antalya, we are forty-two students and teachers, we came here to commemorate the eighty-five years since his death” a school teacher told AMNA.
Visitors flocked to cafes near the consulate carrying signs in Turkish. The number of Turkish travelers this year was higher than other years, as bookings showed.
“The anniversary of Kemal Atatürk’s death this year also coincides with the centenary of the founding of the Turkish Republic, and this has set a special tone this year,” Hellenic-Turkish Chamber, Stefanos Hatzimanolis said on AMNA radio “Agency 104.9 FM”.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk: Founder of Modern Turkey
Μilitary officer, politician and reformer Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was born to a humble Turkish family in Thessaloniki on May 12, 1881. At the time, the city was still under Ottoman rule.
While attending military school, a teacher who admired his performance recommended that he take the name Kemal, which means maturity and perfection.
He served in the Ottoman army and was politically active as well. In 1923 he became the first president of the Republic of Turkey.
The Modern Turkish State
As President, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk abolished the Caliphate, implementing his broad reform program. He closed all institutions based on Islamic canon law. He abolished the traditional education system, which was mainly religious, and established new-type folk schools.
He modernized the Ottoman legal system and established gender equality. Oriental molds in dress, which had religious significance, were thrown away in favor of European clothes.
In 1928 he replaced the Arabic script with the Latin alphabet and made sure that Western classical music and theater were spread to the people.
With a broad research program in the field of Turkish language and history, he wanted to strengthen national consciousness, rather than religion, as a cohesive link.
In 1933, he published a law that made it mandatory for citizens to use a family name, and the National Assembly gave Kemal the name Atatürk (Father of the Turks).
The reformer of the Turkish state died on November 10, 1938 in Istanbul.