The demise of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk created a deep trauma for the Turkish nation who did not only consider him as a liberator but also as the leader who ushered Turkey into a modern age with his westernization drive.
The fact that millions turned out to commemorate him at his mausoleum and there large amount of affection shown to him 76 years after his demise shows the depth of his impact on this nation. The Turkish people do not forget those who serve it with success and the people themselves crown you with their affection. This was the case for Atatürk; it was also the case for late President Turgut Özal. They remain in the hearts of sensible Turks.
The commemoration of Atatürk was once a day of sad senseless mourning. Now, it has become a day when we rejoice the life and achievements of the great leader.
On this day I personally felt three emotions that were all different from each other.
The first was one of anger. It is no secret that some circles in Turkey openly dislike Atatürk and this was clearly displayed by the right-wing daily Yeni Akit which declared "do we have to like Atatürk?" Reactions flooded the social media, mostly angry cries. Yeni Akit wanted to create a sensation and it did, but in an ugly and unworthy manner. Of course no one can be forced to like or adore Atatürk. But as Turks who owe him so much we do have to respect his memory and hold him in high esteem. Only those with crooked beliefs like the ones entertained by the extremists of ISIS can entertain such feelings… The ruling Justice and Development Party has done the right thing in placing Atatürk in the right perspective, respecting his memory and holding him in high esteem despite provocations of all kinds.
The second emotion I felt on this day was amusement. At 9.05 a.m. all life comes to a standstill as the time when Atatürk passed away, 76 years ago on November 10. The sirens are sounded and the nation stands in silence for a minute to commemorate Atatürk. But one police officer got it all wrong in İstanbul. When the traffic came to a halt and people stepped out of their cars to stand in silence the police officer thought this was a mass protest action and informed the headquarters that there was a demonstration by defiant drivers… The headquarters reminded the bewildered policeman that it was 9.05 am and the nation was respecting Atatürk…
The third emotion was one of divine conviction. On November 8, 1938 Atatürk fell into a coma according to historian Deputy Associate Professor Ali Güler from Hacettepe University. He passed away 38 and half hours later. Just before he fell into a coma the last words of the great statesman was "Aleykümesselam" (May Allah's greetings be upon you). This is the dying moments of a good Muslim believer. According to the Quran, the 32 verses of the Nahl Sura and the 91st and 92ndverses of the Vakıa Sura describes the death moments of a Muslim believer, and the demise of Atatürk fits this description as the believer greeted the angel of death with the greeting "Aleykümesselam."
May Allah rest his soul in peace and grant him a place in heaven.