Drugs to spread if religious courses abolished, President Erdoğan says

Drugs to spread if religious courses abolished, President Erdoğan says

Mustafa Küçük ISTANBUL
Drugs to spread if religious courses abolished, President Erdoğan says

Erdoğan declared a war on drugs during an event organized by the Green Crescent Society (Yeşilay) on Sept. 29. AA Photo

Drugs, violence and racism would spread among the youth if Turkey’s compulsory religion courses were abolished by the government, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claimed Sept. 29.

Speaking at a symposium on combating drugs in Istanbul, Erdoğan defended religious education in schools by saying children with a lack of religious and moral education tried to fill the “gap” with other things. “Sometimes they use drugs, sometimes violence and sometimes organized violence, which turns into terrorism,” he said.

The existence of a religious culture and classes on morality must not be opened to discussion, said Erdoğan, adding that religious education in schools helped in the fight against “drug addiction, terrorism, violence, racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.”

Erdoğan also said compulsory physics and chemistry courses were not being questioned by the European Union, while they question the necessity of compulsory religion class.

Erdoğan’s remarks came after a European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) ruling on Sept. 16 which stated that the Turkish education system was “still inadequately equipped to ensure respect for parents’ convictions” and therefore violated the “right to education,” in a case that stemmed from Alevi complaints about mandatory religious classes.

Erdoğan slammed the ECHR decision. “This is an incorrect ruling and there is no similar example in the West,” the president said. “The mandatory physics classes, the mandatory chemistry classes are not sources of debate anywhere around the world, but everybody talks about the religious courses.”

Erdoğan also said 180 million people around the world used drugs and that 75 million were drug-dependent. He said at least 2.7 percent of the Turkish population of 76 million had used illegal substances at least once. 

Erdoğan said an issue of terrorism was actually threatening peace in the world. “You see that everybody speaks about the results, but not the reasons for that.”

In addition, Erdoğan asked “why European friends did not bother about the terrorist organization, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK]. Because there is no word pertaining to ‘Islam’ in front of that terrorist organization’s name.”    

The comments were made a three-day symposium on drug policy in Turkey organized by the Turkish Green Crescent Society (Yeşilay), a nongovernmental organization that endeavors to protect society and youth from “harmful habits.”