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Date/Time
Date(s) - 08/06/2020
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Location
Thistle Inn

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Peter Bacos, a Wellington Humanist NZ member has prepared this talk for our June meeting. The talk is divided into three parts. Peter will go straight to the ‘meat in the sandwich’ and discuss the reforms Ataturk introduced in the 1920’s, after the creation of the modern Turkish state. He will discuss the abolition of the caliphate, the banning of the Fez, traditional headgear of Muslims, the reorganization of the judicial system and the replacement of the Arab alphabet by Latin characters. It is a popular misconception that Ataturk operated on a tabula rasa; he built on many reforms that Ottoman sultans had initiated since the 19th century. The sultans and their advisers saw how backward the empire had become compared to the West. Peter will discuss these changes. The army was remodelled with heavy German and French influence; secular schools were introduced where the medium of instruction was French; higher academic institutions were established and railways spread throughout the empire, although still not on the scale of Europe.

Finally, Peter will turn to the personal life of Ataturk and identify factors which led to his religious scepticism and his disdain for religion. Once again it will be clear that intellectual influences from France, from the ferment of ideas coming from the French Revolution played a major part.