The meeting place of East and West, Turkey has an almost entirely Muslim population. And yet for more than 80 years, Turks have been governed by strictly secular principles; principles introduced by the founding father of the republic, Mustafa Kamal Ataturk.

Al Jazeera's Imran Garda explores Ataturk's
extraordinary - and contested - legacy

As Turkey prepares for general elections, amid an increasingly tense standoff between the ruling AKP party - accused of being 'Islamist' by its rivals - and the opposition supported by the military - Al Jazeera's Imran Garda travelled to the country to explore Ataturk's extraordinary - and contested - legacy.

The "Father of the Turks" died in 1938, but his image and his influence still pervades all aspects of national life.

He is celebrated as having created a dynamic and peaceful democracy out of the ashes of a fallen empire, but the secularism for which he is so famous has arguably become a quasi-religion which cannot be publicly challenged.

Al Jazeera examines why he is so revered by so many Turks, and why others claim the state is manipulating his memory for its own oppressive purposes.

Watch Father of the Turks here:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Father of the Turks aired from 16 July 2007


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