Headlines from the centennial! – Fourth sequel
It’s less than two months since the third sequel to the “headlines” series was published in this column, but apparently it is time for a fourth sequel. So, here we go again with more headlines from the Istanbul press in the year 2023:
- President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan once again refused to take Ottoman language lessons himself, but insisted that every Turkish pupil should learn what he termed in 2014 as “ageless Turkish.” Erdoğan added, however, that he had changed his signature to a calligraphic monogram, which he claims proves his fluency in Ottoman.
- Meanwhile, after Erdoğan ordered the presidential palace staff to use Ottoman in their official correspondence, most of his advisers have resigned. The controversy over which one of a dozen or so different Ottoman scripts should be used in public computer keyboards has taken a new turn since some linguists proposed to switch to Seljuk Turkish instead of Ottoman.
- The Education Ministry has made religion a mandatory course in kindergarten. During these classes, three-year-old female students will have to wear the Islamic headscarf.
- Further liberalizing the curriculum, the Education Ministry declared mathematics, physics, Turkish, geography and chemistry as elective courses. “Some parents have filed complaints about mandatory courses, including religion. To address their concerns, we have declared these five classes no longer compulsory,” the ministry said in a press release.
- President Erdoğan has announced plans to create an independent Turkish Islamic State in an unspecified part of Ankara. In response to criticism, Erdoğan said: “Why don’t you criticize the Vatican?”
He said the new state would be independent in its domestic affairs, appoint ambassadors to foreign states and claim the mantle of the Islamic Caliphate. The New Islamic State, which in 2017 defeated the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, now controls large parts of Syria and Iraq and has since claimed the mantle of the Caliphate. In a press release, it said, “The Turkish move is unacceptable.”
- The government is preparing to launch dual taxation and court systems for Muslims and non-Muslims. A week ago, the Turkish military announced that it would form a new combat unit, the Neo-Janissary division, to replace the now-defunct special operations section.
- The Labor Ministry has vehemently denied speculation that it had drafted a bill legalizing the Ottoman-era slave trade.
- The Science and Technology Ministry has warned Wikipedia that its six-paragraph section devoted to “Science and Technology” on the “Ottoman Empire” page was insufficient and insulting. The ministry threatened to ban access to Wikipedia unless the section is enriched.
- The Higher Education Board has said fiqh, hadith and ijtihad will be introduced as mandatory courses at all law faculties. It also said medicine students will now have to pass tests in which they will be required to recite prayers for terminally ill patients. The 11th century polymath Avicenna’s “The Book of Healing” will be added to the curriculum at medicine faculties. Another addition to the university curriculum – for students of mathematics – is Alhazen, the Muslim mathematician who discovered the sum formula for the fourth power.
- Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has appointed 97-year-old Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian Islamist theologian, as new interior minister. Al-Qaradawi replaces Mohamed Morsi, another Egyptian who in 2018 fled to Turkey. In 2013, al-Qaradawi said he fully supported Erdoğan and that the Gezi protesters were acting against “Allah’s will.” He was in hiding to escape a 2014 arrest warrant from Interpol.
- Davutoğlu also appointed Ali Rıza Demircan as minister for family and social policy. Demircan became a world-renowned scientist after his 1984 book, “Sexual Life According to Islam.” In his book, Demircan revealed not-then-proven facts about the afterlife. Some of his findings included: “Every man will be given 72 women per day [in heaven] … A fully faithful Muslim will be given 100 virgins per day with whom he will have sex all day long … Women in heaven will become virgins immediately after having had sex with men … Every man in heaven will be given the [sexual] power of 100 men … Women will be given to men who died in the name of religion (Islam) … Men in heaven will have permanent erections.”