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Nationalist Demonstration in Turkey, 1922

Nationalist Demonstration in Turkey, 1922

This photo shows a crowd of demonstrators protesting occupation by European powers in Istanbul, 1922. In the wake of World War I, Istanbul was occupied by multiple European nations following the 1918 Armistice of Mudros. The humiliating Treaty of Sèvres, which imposed many territorial and financial losses on the Ottoman Empire, was signed by the government of the last Sultan in 1920, but even before that, in 1919, a nationalist resistance to the Allies had begun. This movement rejected the Treaty of Sèvres and condemned the Sultan’s government for signing it. They fought instead for complete sovereignty over the area of Anatolia (the main area that remained under Ottoman military control at the time of the Armistice of Mudros). Eventually this was achieved under a nationalist, republican government led by Mustafa Kemal, also known as Ataturk. At the time of the demonstration in this photograph, Turkish nationalist forces were doing extremely well against all other players in Anatolia, and by the end of 1922 a new settlement was being negotiated between European powers and nationalist Turkey, resulting in the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.

At the forefront of the demonstration are a number of women, who were also prominent in the Turkish nationalist movement. One of them, Halide Edip, gave many fiery speeches in support of the nationalist struggle, and later went on to become a famous feminist novelist and political figure in Turkey.

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