Turkey commemorated its 100-year anniversary as a republic on October 29, 2023, but the celebrations were scaled back due to the escalating attacks in Gaza.
The muted affair highlights the far-reaching impacts of the bloody Israel-Hamas war, as well as the uncomfortable divisions within Turkish society over the state’s secular legacy, which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sought to challenge.
On the day of the anniversary, Erdogan visited the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, and laid a wreath.
He also gave a speech in which he praised Atatürk’s legacy and called for unity among Turks.
However, the scaled-down celebrations angered some citizens who believe that Erdogan is glossing over the occasion to undermine Atatürk’s secular legacy in pursuit of his own political vision — and that of his religious support base.
Turkey’s centennial celebrations are a reminder of the country’s rich history and culture, but they also highlight the challenges that it faces today.
Turkey is a deeply divided society, and Erdogan’s presidency has further exacerbated these divisions. It remains to be seen whether Turkey will be able to overcome these challenges and emerge as a more united and prosperous nation in the years to come.