Shortly after New Year’s Day, 1924, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk – the father of the Republic of Turkey – traveled to the city of Izmir, on the coast of the Aegean Sea. His presidency, like the republic itself, was only a year old. Both had emerged from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire’s recent defeat in World War I, after which the empire had been dismembered by its enemies. This was a disgrace Ataturk meant to avoid. The stated purpose of his visit was to oversee large-scale military maneuvers. But after the military exercises ended, Ataturk stayed for almost two more months. With him was an entourage of important officials, including the prime minister, the minister of war and the chief of general staff. In Izmir, surrounded by his aids, Ataturk decided that unless Turkey abdicated its position as leader of the Muslim world, it would suffer the same ignominious fate as the Ottoman Empire.
Ataturk returned to Istanbul, and on March 1 he gave a speech to the Grand Na