Islamist indoctrination of children through education
In a not-so-surprising move, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government announced earlier this week that female students as young as 10 years old will be allowed to wear headscarf at schools.
This is the latest step in efforts to create a certain type of citizen through education, a target that the Turkish Republic has been struggling to reach since its foundation.
For years, the aim was to create “Kemalist/nationalist generations,” holding the sake of the state above everything else. Now, the government seeks to raise a non-questioning “pious generation,” as Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was prime minister at the time, said in 2012.
There is no point in saying that a 10-year-old wants to wear the hijab on her own will; it will come as a demand from her parents and/or her social environment. If the girl comes from a pious family, she will be forced to follow the same path, and the “headscarf freedom” in schools will certainly help.
More help in the Muslim indoctrination of children comes with the compulsory religious courses, which the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) recently ordered Turkey to revise - prompting strong reactions from local officials. In response, Prime Minster Ahmet Davutoğlu claimed that the mandatory courses aimed to give “general information” about belief and all religions, which is completely wrong if not a deliberate lie.
These courses start in the fourth year of the 12-year mandatory education period, one year before girls are allowed wear headscarves – at least for now. The class textbook, published by the Education Ministry, opens with a photograph of a student praying with his hands open to the sky, and there is no doubt that he is a Muslim. The first chapter aims to question the religious knowledge of students, but also contains certain arguments such as “having many words, sayings and idioms related to our beliefs shows us that religion carries an important part in our lives.”
It is not strange for a religious book to praise religion, of course, but the belief and religion mentioned here is Islam only, and mainly the Sunni belief. The subjects continue with “basmala,” “the reasons we should be grateful to Allah,” “the concepts of virtue and sin” and so on, all explained according to Sunni belief. Nine-year-old kids are constantly reminded that “Allah awaits your prayers.”
Islam is referred to as “our religion” throughout the curriculum and is praised as “the religion of peace, love and tolerance,” with obviously no mention of the beheadings made in the name of Islam.
Students in Turkey are given mandatory religious classes for nine years, from the fourth grade to the 12th. The nine textbooks for the classes consist of 1,086 pages in total; Alevism - a liberal Islam-influenced belief that has millions of followers in Turkey and abroad - together with Bektashism only makes up 16 pages in the seventh grade and 12th grade books. Complaints from Alevis had led to the landmark recent ECHR ruling.
According to information gathered by Hürriyet, other sects within Islam, such as Shiite and Caferism, are briefly mentioned in the 11th grade. Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity are mentioned in a total of one-and-a-half pages in the eighth grade, while the rest of the curriculum is filled with the Sunni way of belief, prayer, morality and lifestyle.
Of course, the curriculum also includes atheism.
“Atheism, which is a reaction against faith in Allah, has been embraced by some Western philosophers, but has lost its intellectual basis and is weak nowadays,” the official ninth-grade textbook reads. It also claims that atheists explain the world with “coincidences” and atheism may lead to “degeneration of basic social and cultural values and alienate people from national and moral sentiments.”
So, the mandatory religious courses in Turkey say, in summary, that religions other than Islam are not very much worth mentioning, you may have some information on other ways and sects but Sunni Islam is the true Islam that you should follow; meanwhile, never ever become an atheist or society will completely collapse.
Now, add the pressure that the girls will face now that headscarves are allowed in schools. There are millions of sick minds in this country who believe that those wear hijabs are “virtuous” women, while those who do not wear a hijab are asking for it if, for example, they are raped. Many girls, especially in small towns and conservative neighborhoods, will be forced to wear the headscarf in order not to be labeled as a “tramp.”
The education system in Turkey, with its mandatory religious courses, shallow history classes, and poor mathematics and science lessons, isn’t far away from becoming a successful tool in producing the “pious generations” that the AKP eagerly wants.
The next step in this struggle is gender segregated education, which does not seem like a distant possibility anymore.