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Turkey: Education should facilitate, not undermine, freedom of religion or belief

ICC Note:

“Aspects of the school system [in Turkey] play a role in fuelling a type of nationalism behind intolerant attitudes, violent attacks and possibly even murders experienced by vulnerable groups,” Forum 18 News Service reports. Such education dictates the treatment of Turkey’s Christian minority.

By Mine Yildirim
 
1/5/2011 Turkey (Forum 18 News Service) – Many in Turkey see an urgent need to reform primary and secondary school education to facilitate freedom of religion or belief. This is because, Forum 18 News Service notes, aspects of the school system play a role in fuelling a type of nationalism behind intolerant attitudes, violent attacks and possibly even murders experienced by vulnerable groups. Key problems identified by members of various religious communities and atheists include compulsory Religious Culture and Knowledge of Ethics (RCKE) school classes, strict limits on exemption from such classes, discrimination against those seeking exemption, and misleading information in textbooks on the History of Turkish Republican Reforms and Atatürkism. An overdue first step would be to implement an October 2007 European Court of Human Rights judgment to legally enable all parents to exempt their children from RCKE classes. Implementing respect for everyone’s freedom of religion or belief in school education will contribute to Turkey flourishing as a truly pluralistic democratic society.

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