İstiklâl Marşı

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İstiklâl Marşı
English: Independence March
Mehmet Akif.jpg
Mehmet Âkif Ersoy, the lyricist

National anthem of  Turkey
 Northern Cyprus

Lyrics Mehmet Akif Ersoy, 1921

Osman Zeki Üngör, 1930

Edgar Manas, 1932
Adopted 12 March 1921
Music sample

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The İstiklâl Marşı (Turkish pronunciation: [ɯstiˈklaːl marˈʃɯ]; English: Independence March) is the national anthem of Turkey, officially adopted on 12 March 1921 - two and a half years before the 29 October 1923 establishment of the Republic of Turkey, both as a motivational musical saga for the troops fighting in the Turkish War of Independence, and as an anthem for a Republic that was yet to be established. It is also the anthem of Northern Cyprus.[1]

Penned by Mehmet Âkif Ersoy, ultimately composed by Osman Zeki Üngör, the theme is one of affection for the Turkish homeland, freedom, and faith, of sacrifice for liberty, and of hope and devotion, explored through visual, tactile and kinesthetic imagery as they relate to the flag, the human spirit and the soil of the homeland. The manuscript by Ersoy carries the dedication Kahraman Ordumuza – "To our Heroic Army", the army that won the Turkish War of Independence. The lyrics reflect on the sacrifice of the soldiers during the war. Of the ten-stanza anthem, only the first two quatrains are typically sung. The anthem is regularly heard during state and military events, as well as during national festivals, bayrams, sporting events, and school ceremonies.

The anthem was the subject of a brief copyright dispute in 2010, when GEMA, the German music copyright society, attempted to collect royalties on the anthem.[2] The composition was adopted as the National Anthem of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, an internationally unrecognized state on the island of Cyprus that was declared by the Turkish Cypriot community in 1983 after the events of 1974.[1]


An example of a common classroom display in Turkey, including the anthem at far right.

Even before the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, in 1921, a nationwide competition was organized to select an original composition for a National March- for which a total of 724 poems were submitted. Mehmet Akif Ersoy, a very well known poet of the time, refused to participate due to the monetary prize of the competition. He was then called and convinced by parliament to submit a poem, disregarding the prize of the competition. This ten-quinteto-long poem written by Ersoy was recited to the National Assembly by Hamdullah Suphi, on March 1, 1921,[3] and it was unanimously adopted by the Deputies, following evaluation by a parliamentary committee; the prize of the competition was granted to a society of veterans.

Shortly thereafter, twenty-four composers participated in another competition arranged for the selection of a musical composition that would suit the elected National Anthem best. The Committee, which was only able to convene in 1924 due to the Turkish War of Independence, adopted the music composed by Ali Rıfat Çağatay. This composition lasted only six years. In 1930 a new composition by Osman Zeki Üngör was adopted.[3] Edgar Manas (Armenian: Էտկար Մանաս) made the arrangements for the orchestra.[4][5][6]

A framed version of the national anthem typically occupies the wall above the blackboard in the classrooms of almost every school in Turkey (accompanied by a Turkish flag, a photograph of the country's founding father Atatürk, and a copy of Atatürk's famous inspirational speech to the nation's youth).[citation needed]

A scroll displaying the first two quatrains of the anthem was depicted on the reverse of the Turkish 100 lira banknotes of 1983–1989.[7]


The poem the national anthem is drawn from has 41 lines, but only the first 8, shown below, are performed in official ceremonies.

Turkish lyrics English translation
Korkma, sönmez bu şafaklarda yüzen al sancak;
Sönmeden yurdumun üstünde tüten en son ocak.
O benim milletimin yıldızıdır, parlayacak;
O benimdir, o benim milletimindir ancak.
Çatma, kurban olayım çehreni ey nazlı hilâl!
Kahraman ırkıma bir gül! Ne bu şiddet bu celâl?
Sana olmaz dökülen kanlarımız sonra helâl,
Hakkıdır, Hakk'a tapan, milletimin istiklâl!
Fear not; For the crimson banner that proudly ripples in this glorious dawn, shall not fade,
Before the last fiery hearth that is ablaze within my homeland is extinguished.
For that1 is the star of my people, and it will forever shine;
It is mine; and solely belongs to my valiant nation.
Frown not, I beseech you, oh thou coy crescent!2
Smile upon my heroic nation!3 Why the anger, why the rage?4 6
Our blood which we shed for you shall not be worthy otherwise;6
For independence is the absolute right of my God-worshipping5 nation.6


1 A white crescent and star superimposed on a crimson background comprise the Turkish flag - the poet here is referring to the crimson flag's star, and is declaring that it belongs to the hearts of those comprising the Turkish nation, who cherish it deeply, and refuse to be deprived of it (and hence, their freedom and liberty) by anyone.

2 A white crescent and star superimposed on a crimson background comprise the Turkish flag- the poet is invoking the curvilinear image of the crescent and comparing it to the furrowed eyebrows of a frowning face, and anthropomorphises the flag by suggesting that its "sulky face" is an outward expression of its resentment of the invading foreign armies. The poet elaborates upon this imagery by suggesting that the flag is not only being surly, but also coy. He depicts the flag (and the spirit of freedom which it embodies, under threat from invading nations against whom victory initially seems impossibly difficult to achieve, hence "coy") as a demure maiden with a sulky face (symbolically, the resentment of the invasion) who is playing hard-to-get. That is, the "coy" flag is being "playful" about letting Turkish troops achieve ultimate victory and thus, freedom.

3 Although the word used here, "ırk", means "race" in contemporary Turkish, it had different associations in Ottoman Turkish. In Ottoman Turkish, it also carries the connotations of 'generation,' 'offspring', and 'family linage; in short, 'kin'.'[8] Also note that the poet was of Albanian and Uzbek origin.[9] Thus, the correct translation would be "Smile upon my heroic kinfolk!", rather than "Smile upon my heroic race".

4 The poet elaborates upon his earlier anthropomorphization of the flag by suggesting that it contain its rage and resentment, and resume its noble and honorable self in order to validate the efforts of Turkish patriots in protecting it.

5 There is a wordplay here that is difficult to translate. The play is on the homophonic words "hak" (justice, right) and Hakk (God), and thus the line can be perceived as "my pious countrymen are deserving of freedom", "my justice-loving countrymen are deserving of freedom", or basically, "freedom is my faithful(faithful to god or justice) nation's right".

2 6 This is the short version of the anthem, covering only first two verses. In the second verse, it can be clearly seen that there are references to crescent moon, and God-worshipping added the by poet, crescent moon is a symbol Islam. Poet asks from the crescent moon to not flare out or be fierce, and smile on his nation, in the last part also God/Justice worshipping parts are added between lines. Hypothetically, this could be a move to attemper(moderate) the chaotic area of progression from Caliphate/Monarch (is basically "all-godly king" as seen in other cultures) to a secular state of Republic, which was a highly delicate issue on masses and required stepwise decisions.


  1. ^ a b "Turkey: İstiklal Marşı". Retrieved 2011-08-08. 
  2. ^ "Turkey Scrambles to Protect National Anthem". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 2011-08-08. 
  3. ^ a b Çiloğlu, F. (1999). Kurtuluş Savaşı sözlüğü. Doğan Kitap. Retrieved 2014-10-31. 
  4. ^ Vefatını 72. yılında Mehmet Âkif Ersoy bilgi șöleni 3 : Mehmed Âkif edebî ve fikrî akımlar. Ankara: Türkiye Yazarlar Birliği. 2009. p. 54. ISBN 9789757382409. 
  5. ^ "İstiklal Marşı’nın Bestelenmesi Çalışmaları" (in Turkish). Retrieved 2012-12-11. 
  6. ^ Külekçi, Cahit (2010). Sosyo-kültürel açıdan Ermeniler ve Türkler: İstanbul Ermenileri (in Turkish). 432: Kayihan. p. 340. 
  7. ^ Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey. Banknote Museum: 7. Emission Group - One Hundred Turkish Lira - I. Series & II. Series. – Retrieved on 20 April 2009.
  9. ^ "Mehmet Akif Ersoy". Retrieved 2014-10-31. 

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