We Turks find a way to sow division even when we want to celebrate a World War I victory, the opening of our national assembly, and Children’s Day. My story for Al-Monitor.
The anniversary of the opening of the Turkish parliament coincided with the centennial of an Ottoman military victory in Iraq during World War I, creating a new fault line in Turkey.
Turks recently celebrated the anniversary of the opening of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on April 23, 1920.
Every April 23, officially known as “National Sovereignty and Children’s Day,” schoolchildren throughout Turkey enjoy a mix of politics and festivities as they sing songs, sit at the desks of high-ranking government officials — president, prime minister, Cabinet ministers, speaker of parliament, provincial governors — and issue remarks on the importance of freedom, the rule of law, national independence and representative democracy. The heartwarming spectacle nurtures hope that younglings with a tenuous understanding of lofty ideals will someday become informed citizens and dedicated public servants.