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Erdogan seeking place in history alongside Ataturk

Turkish Prime Minister and Presidential candidate Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a rally on August 3, 2014 in IstanbulTurkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan hopes to secure a place alongside Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in the pantheon of great and transformative Turkish leaders, but critics accuse him of undermining the legacy of the founder of the modern republic. Erdogan, the favourite to win Sunday’s presidential election, repeatedly pays tribute to Ataturk who founded the modern Turkish state in 1923 in the wake of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Ataturk forged a system of government based on a strict separation between mosque and state. Yet the values espoused by Erdogan, a pious Muslim who does not drink or smoke and whose wife wears the Islamic headscarf, seem for many to sit at odds with Ataturk, whose aura still dominates Turkish political life and whose image is on the wall of offices up and down the country.

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