Christmas celebrations ‘banned’ at German-language school in Istanbul: Report
ISTANBULChristmas celebrations at the Istanbul High School, a German-language high school established over 100 years ago, have allegedly been cancelled, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (Dpa) reported on Dec. 18.
Dpa reported that a notice had been sent to German teachers at the school, in which the Turkish administrators of the Istanbul High School announced that Christmas traditions and the singing of carols would no longer be part of the curriculum.
The principal of the school, Hikmet Konar, did not respond to questions about the alleged Christmas ban, daily Hürriyet reported.
However, Bahçelievler district director of education, Emin Çıkrıkçı, said banning Christmas celebrations was “out of the question,” adding that the notice was sent to the school after complaints from some parents.
“There were some complaints about the tradition of giving Christmas gifts from parents whose financial situation is less comfortable. In fact, one parent even came to us in tears. That is why I sent the notice to the teachers. It was not a notice that included any kind of ban, but just had some points to take into consideration,” Çıkrıkçı added.
Germany’s Foreign Office expressed concern over the alleged ban, with Dpa reporting that the Foreign Office said on Dec. 18 that it “didn’t understand the surprising decision by the school’s administration.”
The Foreign Office called the decision “regrettable” and said it would seek dialogue with its Turkish partners over the incident.
However, deputy Mustafa Şentop from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) blasted the criticism, saying “missionary activity” must not be allowed at public schools.
“Germany has objected after a warning to people who made Muslim students in public school sing Protestant carols. Missionary activities are not allowed in public schools. Previously there were some teachers at Christmas who drank mulled wine and allowed students to drink too,” Şentop wrote on his official Twitter account.
“How would a Turkish teacher who preached Islam to German Christian students at a public school in Germany be treated? It is understandable that Germany will protect German people who are conducting missionary activities for Germany. But what about Turkish people who are serving Germany? Come on, this is Turkey. Making religious/political propaganda for Germany is not allowed in public schools in Turkey,” he added.
“When the issue is Islam, [people think] secularism is important. But when the issue is Christianity, [people forget about] secularism,” Şentop said.