Ataturk tattoos gaining popularity in Turkey

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Every year on November 10, at exactly 9:05 a.m., Europe's biggest city comes to a halt. Air raid sirens begin to blare. Pedestrians freeze in their tracks. Schools, factories, and government offices suspend work to observe two minutes of silence. On Istanbul's massive thoroughfares, cars, buses and trucks screech to a stop, their drivers and passengers spilling out onto the street, many of them teary eyed, to stand to attention.

Only a handful of world leaders are said to be able to stop traffic while in town. The founder of the modern Turkish republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk--for it is his memory that Turks honor each November--continues to do so more than 70 years after his death.

With a résumé like his, small wonder. It was Ataturk who stopped the Western powers from carving the Ottoman Empire into pieces after the end of the First World War. Triumphant, endowed with near absolute power, and convinced that Turkey would have to adapt or die, it was also he who engineered its transformation from a crumbling Islamic empire to a secular republic....

For Emre Aribulan, an employee at Shadows--a tattoo parlor near Istiklal Caddesi, Istanbul's main pedestrian drag--Ataturk has begun to translate into a business opportunity. Young Turks are flooding shops like his to have Ataturk's likeness--or his signature--permanently inked onto their chests, shoulders, or forearms. Emre, himself a self-avowed Kemalist (as Ataturk's devotees call themselves), is delighted. "Just last week I had four people come in for an Ataturk tattoo," he says....

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