Atatürk's revolutions didn’t harm Islam, instead it freed the Turkish nation from the dogma of Islamic religion, according to critics

ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat, deputy leader of the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, has come under fire for his remarks to the New York Times that Turkish society has been traumatized by the revolutions of Atatürk, founder of the Turkish Republic.
In an interview with Sabrina Tavernise featured in the Sunday edition of the U.S. newspaper, Fırat said, �Turkish society has been traumatized [by the revolutions of Atatürk.] Overnight they were told to change their dress, their language. Their religious ways were dismantled.�
While his words drew severe reaction from both his own party deputies and different segments of society, including deputies from the opposition parties, Fırat confirmed his remarks yesterday and tried to further clarify their meaning, saying that it was a long interview and that what is reflected in the media were the comments of the journalist derived from a comprehensive dialogue. He said every revolution created a social trauma and he didn't attribute any positive or negative quality to Atatürk's revolutions in the interview.
The first criticism from inside the AKP came from Kırıkkale deputy, Vahit Erdem. He described Fırat's ideas as backward.
�Turkey made its revolutions during the Republic period and it now continues on its route. It is no use to look at the past and say �this happened or this didn't happen.' We should look ahead,� he said adding that Turkey was undergoing a tense period and people should avoid creating further tension in such a period.
Parliament Speaker Köksal Toptan said yesterday, �It is the revolutions of Atatürk that brought us to these days.�
Onur Öymen of the Republican People's Party, or CHP, said Fırat's words revealed what kind of a mentality ruled the country. He said it was quite wrong and unjust to describe Atatürk revolutions, which freed the Turkish nation, as a period of oppression.

Revolutions remove pressure
�Atatürk's revolutions introduced the country to the contemporary world. It was the revolutions that led to the establishment of a secular republican state instead of an authoritarian religious state,� he said, adding, �The Turkish nation adopted the tenets of Atatürk as an indispensable part of their lives. Atatürk's revolutions removed the pressure from the people.�
Masum Türker, general secretary of the Democratic Left Party, or DSP, said Fırat's remarks revealed the real target of the AKP.
�His remarks aim to lay Atatürk open to discussion and shake the basic principles of the Republic,� he said.
Among the reactions were those from the worlds of education and art.
Ankara University Rector Nusret Aras said the principles of Atatürk rescued Turkey from those hard times, and these types of opinions aim at taking the country back to that dark period. He said no country could develop based solely on religion.
Eğitim-İş, or the teachers' union, the Turkish State Theater Foundation of Opera and Ballet Performers, or TOBAV, and Theater Performers' Union, or TOMEB, also slammed Fırat over his remarks.
Religious scholar, Zekeriya Beyaz, meanwhile said Atatürk's revolutions didn't harm Islam. Instead, they supported Islam.
�Atatürk and his principles simply didn't want to allow superstitions [to rule the country.] However, in recent years, superstitions have again begun to become dominant thanks to some people like Fırat,� he noted.