April 8th 1924: Shariah courts abolished in Turkey

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Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881 – 1938)

 

On this day in 1924 the newly created Republic of Turkey, which grew out of the remains of the Ottoman Empire, abolished shariah law in courts. This measure came as part of a package of reforms named for Turkey’s first President that were implemented in the 1920s and 1930s – Atatürk’s reforms. The reforms tried to create a secular, Westernised state, in order to modernise Turkey and ensure it remained a player on the world stage.

 

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Atatürk introduces the new Turkish alphabet on September 20th 1928

 

Atatürk’s reforms comprised of: political reforms which included a new Constitution, abolished the sultanate and established a multi-party system; social reforms which eliminated religious clothing or insignia and provided for legal gender equality and female suffrage and made polygamy illegal; legal reforms which ended the shariah system; educational reforms which established a new, mixed-gender education system, secularised curriculum  and aimed to improve literacy with the establishment of a new alphabet; and economic reforms which aimed for state control, nationalisation and the establishment of a banking system. Atatürk’s reforms were eventually completed, and undeniably played a major role in shaping the new Turkish state. Atatürk died in 1938 but is still celebrated as the ‘father of the country’.

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