CHP alleges PM Erdoğan’s son, religious foundations design education in Turkey
CHP Secretary General Gürsel Tekin revealed an audio recording that allegedly included Bilal Erdoğan’s conversations aimed at expanding İmam-Hatip high schools, religious vocational schools, across Turkey.The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has suggested that Turkey’s education policy was being designed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son, Bilal Erdoğan, in close coordination with five Islamist-leaning foundations.
CHP Secretary General Gürsel Tekin revealed an audio recording that allegedly included Bilal Erdoğan’s conversations aimed at expanding İmam-Hatip high schools, religious vocational schools, across Turkey.
“We used to think the architect of a project for same-sex dormitories had been the education minister of this country. We now understand this country doesn’t have an education minister, it has its ‘Bilal.’ It is Bilal and his friends who decide on the education system. It is saddening, but it is unfortunately so,” Tekin said at a press conference, after playing the audio recording.
The tape is a collection of recordings from different meetings allegedly held by Erdoğan, along with representatives of the Service for Youth and Education Foundation of Turkey (TÜRGEV), the Society for Dissemination of Knowledge, the Ensar Foundation and the Association of İmam Hatip Graduates and Members (ÖNDER) in addition to senior bureaucrats from the Education Ministry, the Provincial Directorate of National Education, the Istanbul Special Provincial Administration and the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.
Bilal Erdoğan is among the board members of TÜRGEV, a charity nongovernmental organization.
In the recordings, participants discuss a wide range of issues related to the education system. But the situation of İmam-Hatip schools and ways of increasing their numbers, as well as increasing the number of sex-same dormitories for high school students, while discouraging the construction of mixed-sex schools and dormitories through the help of construction policies to be imposed by related provincial institutions cover a wider space.
In one of the recordings, Erdoğan allegedly explains in length how the number of students graduating from İmam-Hatip schools and their percentage in students taking university entrance exams should increase. He calls on authorities to reject projects outlining mixed-sex schools and dormitories.
“We shall not think of girls and boys within the same campus either,” Erdoğan allegedly says.
Tekin did not, however, elaborate on the exact date of recordings.
The Prime Minister Office did not release a statement regarding the issue. "We don't take [the allegations] seriously,” a Prime Ministry official who spoke to daily Hürriyet on condition of anonymity said, stressing that the source of the latest recording was not clear.
Back in the autumn of 2013, a senior member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had overtly voiced his objection to mixed-sex education, labeling the implementation of mixed-sex education as “a big mistake” and promising to correct the mistake in the near future.
Remarks by Sadık Yakut, a deputy parliamentary speaker, came during a continuing storm over Prime Minister Erdoğan’s public objection to co-ed accommodation for university students.
In the first week of November, Prime Minister Erdoğan suggested new regulations could be drawn up to stop male and female students from living together, triggering accusations of religiously inspired interference with private life.
Later, members of the AKP and the Cabinet sought to calm down the impact of Prime Minister Erdoğan’s remarks, which had been widely condemned as part of what is perceived as an increasingly authoritarian style of governance, dominated by his tendency to interfere with people’s lifestyles.