ICC Note: President Erdogan has long pointed to his desire to raise up a “pious generation.” Whereas fifteen years ago there were only 450 religious schools in Turkey, there are now 4,500. By pushing a religious education on citizens, Erdogan is reinforcing the concept that to be truly Turkish one must be Muslim. This narrative creates a significant community barrier towards Christians, particularly converts, who are viewed as anti-Turkish and therefore as second class citizens.
06/19/2018 Turkey (New York Times) – Public schools are closing, on little or no notice, and being replaced by religious schools. Exams are scrapped by presidential whim. Tens of thousands of public teachers have been fired. Outside religious groups are teaching in schools, without parental consent.
The battle over how to shape Turkey’s next generation has become a tumultuous issue for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as he seeks re-election on Sunday in a vote that is shaping up as a referendum on his deepening imprint on the country after 15 years at the helm.
Mr. Erdogan has already chipped away at Turkey’s democratic institutions, purging the courts and civil service of suspected opponents, bringing the media to heel, and leaving in place a state of emergency after a failed coup in 2016 that has added a new level of precariousness to the campaign.
His opponents fear that his re-election to a newly empowered presidency after constitutional changes last year will give Mr. Erdogan almost unchecked authority to push his agenda even further and fundamentally alter Turkish society.
Education has become a central issue as parents around the country are protesting his changes and scrambling to find schools of their choice as standards slide and unemployment swells.
Most controversial has been Mr. Erdogan’s push to expand religious education, in ways that thrill his supporters and alarm his critics.
Mr. Erdogan has made no secret of his desire to recast Turkey in his own image, one rivaling the legacy of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the republic and its first president.
Their visions for Turkey could not be more different. Atatürk was a nationalist and secularist whose sensibility permeates Turkish culture. Mr. Erdogan is an Islamist who rose from the conservative, religious working class that most resented westernized secularism.
Even while prime minister, six years ago, Mr. Erdogan declared his desire to “raise a pious generation.”
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