Discussing Atatürk

We have to educate women as little as possible, he said. His friend agreed, and added that women should not only have no education, they also shouldn’t work or leave their village too much. Because once you educate women and once they start earning an income, it will be a threat to marriage. Now, these two guys were, for example, free to have sex with women other than their wives, and it wouldn’t matter if their wives found out, because where could they go? I was listening in shock and amazement. Men in their early twenties, being one hundred percent serious about this matter.
I asked them if they loved Atatürk. Now it was they who looked amazed and shocked. Of course they loved Atatürk! Did they know, I asked them, that Atatürk gave women the right to vote, that his adopted daughter was the first women ever to fly an army aircraft, that he pleaded for both boys and girls to go to school? They knew, but somehow they didn’t connect that with women in Turkey nowadays. They were stuttering a bit. Maybe because the guys themselves didn’t have too much education and didn’t leave their village too much.
And now youtube.com is blocked. What does it have to do with these two guys? A lot. Youtube is blocked because there was a film on it in which Atatürk was insulted. Another indication that discussing Atatürk is not possible in this country. Which is bad, especially for those who worship him, because by exchanging opinions instead of just imposing the official truth – love Atatürk! – you can really convince people of the importance of some of the changes that Atatürk brought to this country. People will know, for example, why it is important to educate women. Maybe a discussion about the father of Turks will make him less worshipped, but that’s okay. Because in the end it’s not focussing on the past and past leaders that carries a country forward, but focussing on the future. Along with, of course, the education of women!

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