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Istanbul. Between Cross and Crescent Moon
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. 1930
I have always had
a paternalistic conception of my Turkey.
Mine was an immature people who had to be guided towards democracy... Yet, when I wielded power for the first time, democracy was not yet practised, it was only in perspective. I always thought about the evolution of my society, on which I imposed many secular changes. One of the most important was undoubtedly the oppression of the
relationship between religion and the state; an indissoluble relationship, which has always been planned and imposed by Islam. This year, 1930, Constantinople changed its name to a new one: Istanbul. The new generations, who now live in a republican Turkey, have inherited several luxurious palaces from the Ottoman Empire,
whose decline coincided with the end of the Great War. One of these is the Dolmabahçe Palace, which was the main administrative centre of the Ottoman Empire from the mid-19th century until the year just before I moved in, and was built by order of Sultan Abdülmecid I. It was a different era, in terms of architecture and architecture, and a different time.
It was a different time for the city and for Turkey... An era that seems light years away now, thanks to all my work. I had many opponents, some of whom I excluded from my party and even imprisoned. I can't say that I have been subtle about political dissent. I did not want to be seen as an enemy of Islam, but I presented myself as a defender of Turkey.
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