President Abdullah Gül's appointment last week of professors, among others, of conservative backgrounds as members of the atatürk high Institution of culture, language and history has spurred criticism from secular circles that are suspicious of these figures' loyalty to the nation's founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk; however, one of these professors, Mümtaz'er türköne, claims criticism of his membership in the institution is politically motivated.
Professor Türköne, Professor Alparslan Açıkgenç and İskender Pala, a professor and renowned author, are some of the professors who were appointed by Gül to the institution's executive board last week. The appointment of these scholars to the Atatürk High Institution of Culture, Language and History has led to criticism from some circles, and Republican People's Party (CHP) supporters even held a demonstration in İstanbul's Taksim Square on Sunday in protest of Türköne's appointment to the institution.
They called on Türköne to resign from his seat at the institution on the grounds that he is a pro-government figure, writes for the Zaman daily and has views critical of Atatürkism.
In remarks to Today's Zaman, Türköne, who is at the center of the issue, defined the reactions against his membership in the Atatürk High Institution of Culture, Language and History as politically motivated. He said what he stands against and is critical of is not Atatürk but the understanding of the CHP that abuses Atatürk and sees him as its property, which is the reason behind the party's particular problem with Türköne.
He said Atatürk is a common value of this nation, a commander and a leader. “What I am doing is differentiating between Atatürk and Atatürkism, which was invented by those behind the 1960 military coup,” he said.
Türköne said he tries not to pay heed to the criticisms leveled against him and that his only concern is doing his job in the best way possible.