Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

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(1881?1938), Turkish soldier and statesman, the founder and first president of the Turkish republic.

He was born in Salonika (now in Greece). He entered the military secondary school in Salonika in 1893 and the military academy at Monastir in 1895. He played a minor role in the Balkan Wars of 1912?1913 and he gained a major victory by repulsing the Allied invasion of Gallipoli in 1915. After organizing the local resistance groups against the Ottoman sultan and the Allies in Anatolia into an army, he stopped the advances of enemy forces and consecutively founded the Republic of Turkey on October 29, 1923.

Ataturk began a variety of reforms by ruling out the caliphate. The theological schools were closed, the Law of Islam was replaced by the Swiss Civil Code and Arabic characters for writing Turkish were replaced by Latin characters. Atatürk gave Turkey a new prestige in the international field by his achievements in both military and political fields and died on November 10, 1938 because of complications of cirrhosis.