Turkism Day Date in the current year: May 3, 2024

Turkism Day Turkism Day is observed on May 3 in Turkey, Azerbaijan and some other countries with a predominantly Turkic population, as well as by members of Turkic diaspora across the world. It is celebrated mainly by those who support pan-Turkism, a movement for the political and cultural unification of all Turkic peoples.

The Turkic peoples are a collection of ethno-linguistic groups that speak related languages belonging to the Turkic language family. Sovereign countries where a Turkic language is recognized as official are Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Four of them (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey) are the founding members of the Turkic Council, an international organization established in 2009.

The ideology of pan-Turkism began to emerge in the second half of the 19th century among Turkic intellectuals of the Ottoman Empire and Azerbaijan, the latter being part of the Russian Empire at the time. One of the prominent ideologists of pan-Turkism in the first half of the 20th century was the Turkish nationalist author Hüseyin Nihal Atsiz.

Atsiz and his circle attacked the leadership of Atatürk and condemned Turkey’s foreign policy, especially its relations with the Soviet Union. In 1944, Atsiz wrote several open letters to Prime Minister Şükrü Saracoğlu, accusing a fellow author (and former friend) Sabahattin Ali and several other intellectuals of working for the Soviet Union.

The letters resulted in Atsiz and a number of other nationalists being arrested and put on trial. On May 3, 1944, nationalist youth held a demonstration in front of the courthouse where Arsiz’s trial was held. A year later, Atsiz and other nationalists who were still held in a military prison celebrated the anniversary of the demonstration as Turkism Day.

Today, Turkism Day is a celebration of solidarity of the Turkic peoples observed in many countries and regions with a predominantly Turkic population.

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Turkism Day, cultural observances, Turkic countries, Turkic peoples, pan-Turkism, Hüseyin Nihal Atsiz