98th anniversary of Turkish anthem marked in Pakistan

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The Turkish Embassy in Pakistan on Wednesday hosted a ceremony marking the 98th anniversary of the Turkish national anthem and honoring the memory of its author Mehmet Akif Ersoy.

"Today we have gathered to celebrate 98th anniversary of the adoption of the Turkish National Anthem and remember its great poet Mehmet Akif Ersoy," Turkey's Ambassador to Pakistan Mustafa Yurdakul said while addressing the ceremony.

"12th March 1921 was the date of the adoption of the Turkish National Anthem which lauds the beauty of the Turkish homeland and is dedicated to our heroic army. Akif has commenced the lyrics of the anthem with the powerful word: "Korkma," or "Do not fear!", at a time of the most critical moment of the fight against invaders in our homeland," Yurdakul said.

When Turkey was occupied by the allied powers at the end of the Great War, Akif became an ardent defender of the War of Liberation, he added.

"He was a very devout Muslim and a proud Turk. His characteristics in this sense, makes him resemble to Allame Muhammad Iqbal. Their correspondence with each other is very noteworthy which sets yet another connection between our two peoples," Yurdakul said, adding Akif sent a copy of his famous work "Safahat" to Iqbal while Iqbal sent his "Payam-e Mashriq" to him.

The ceremony was also attended by former Inspector General of Pakistan's National Highways and Motorway Police Zulfiqar Ahmad Cheema, head of Maarif Foundation Pakistan Selahattin Batur, TIKA's country coordinator Gokhan Umut, diplomats, students of Pak-Turk Maarif schools, journalists and many other Pakistani and Turks.

Talking about Akif and Iqbal, Cheema said both of them were great poets who inspired millions of Muslims across the world.

"Iqbal and Akif both believed on unity of Muslims. They never met each other but they shared their books with each other," Cheema said, adding Iqbal has praised bravery of Turks in his several poems.

During the ceremony, Pakistani students of Pak-Turk Maarif schools also recited Akif's poems.

The Turkish national anthem was written in 1921 during the War of Independence as Turkey battled occupation by foreign forces after World War I.

It was penned in order to encourage the fighting army and to motivate the struggling nation. It was also the official anthem of the Republic of Turkey, founded two years later, in 1923.

Akif, Turkey's national poet, was also an author, academician and member of the parliament.

The first reading of Akif's patriotic poem -- the Istiklal Marsi, or Independence March -- received a standing ovation, and it was accepted as the national anthem on March 12, 1921.

He passed away in 1936.

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