January 21, 2013

Turkey to bid farewell to prominent Professor Ateş

Professor Toktamış Ateş, who died of multiple organ failure at İstanbul University's Çapa School of Medicine Hospital on Saturday, will be buried after funeral prayers at İstanbul's Fatih Mosque on Monday.

A memorial ceremony for Ateş will be held at İstanbul University's Rector's Office at 10 a.m., followed by a funeral prayer at the Fatih Mosque. He will then be buried in the Merkez Efendi Cemetery.

Anesthesiology and reanimation specialist Dr. Elif Caymaz told reporters that Ateş died as a result of suffering a seizure at night coupled with multiple organ failure. He had been receiving treatment at İstanbul University's Çapa School of Medicine since September 2012.

Ateş, 69, was a professor of political science at İstanbul University and was the head of İstanbul University's department of political science and international relations. He was also a lecturer at several American and German universities. Having written more than 30 books, he also wrote columns for the Cumhuriyet daily for more than 10 years. He was most recently writing regular columns for the Bugün daily. He was among the recipients of the “Tolerance Award” given by the Journalists and Writers Association (GYV), winning it in 1996.

Commenting on Ateş's death on Twitter, GYV President Mustafa Yeşil said Ateş was a “hero of democracy and tolerance.” “He will always be remembered for his kindness, courage and determination,” he tweeted.

Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen has offered his condolences to the family of the prominent academic.

Gülen underlined that Ateş contributed to the development of democratic culture and building dialogue among different groups in Turkey, stating that he was brave and receptive to different ideas in the academic world.

Ateş, a professor of history who taught republican history in İstanbul University, supported the activities of the Gülen movement in the 1990s at a time when the movement faced tremendous pressure from the secular establishment and mainstream media. Ateş, a staunch Kemalist throughout his whole life, earned the respect of many groups in Turkey for his democratic stance. Ateş also wrote a preface for Gülen's book "Love in the Essence of Mankind" in 2003.

Many columnists, professors and politicians expressed their sorrow over Ateş's death.

Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay also expressed his condolences. “I have learned with great sorrow of the death of esteemed scientist, journalist, writer and my dear friend Professor Toktamış Ateş. He was one of the most important lecturers in Turkey with his books, columns and students. May his soul rest in peace,” stated Günay.

Columnist Taha Akyol stated that Ateş was one of the leading contributors to the democratization of the country. “He used to believe that different ideas could live together and that this could only be achieved by believing in democracy and being tolerant,” he said.

Published on Sunday's Zaman, 20 January 2013, Sunday