Turkish PM backs oath decision as opposition hits hard

Turkish PM backs oath decision as opposition hits hard

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish PM backs oath decision as opposition hits hard

Students will no longer read an obligatory oath at school with the government’s decision to remove it with an amendment. AA photo

The prime minister and leaders of opposition parties engaged in a war of words over the abolishment of the obligatory oath in primary schools at their parties’ parliamentary group meetings.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan suggested that such steps would serve for the normalization of the country and bring back the “authentic spirit” of the republic, while nationalist leader Devlet Bahçeli questioned Erdoğan’s patriotism, as well as his Turkishness.

“The student oath has nothing to do with our republic. The [main opposition] Republican People’s Party [CHP] and the Nationalist Movement Party [MHP] are attempting to deceive our nation with an exploitation campaign, since they don’t know the history of this oath. Hitler and Stalin carried out similar practices in 1930 to format society. You cannot abide lining children up every morning and make them chant racist slogans in any developed countries of the world,” Erdoğan said at the group meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The student oath, which starts with the words, “I’m Turkish, I’m righteous, I’m hardworking” and ends with the phrase, “How happy is he who says ‘I am a Turk’” has been officially removed from primary schools, a week after Erdoğan promised its removal as part of the recent “democratization package.”

Responding to opposition criticisms, he said the student oath did not correspond to the founding philosophy of the republic. “You cannot have a sweet taste by saying ‘honey.’ You have a sweet taste only if you eat honey. One does not become a Turk by saying, ‘I am a Turk.’ One does not become righteous and hardworking by saying, ‘I’m righteous, I’m hard working,’” Erdoğan said.

“If the student oath became a reality, the CHP and MHP would not have made Turkey pay a heavy price. But they dragged Turkey into debt and unemployment for years,” he added.

For his part, the MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli, who has repeatedly slammed the government over the abolishment of the student oath, reiterated his harsh criticism.

“While you were for years - either this or that way – saying, ‘I’m Turkish, righteous and hardworking,’ did you actually remember that you are not Turkish? Did you hold a grudge and enmity against Turkishness? Please, tell us Mr. Prime Minister, why is being Turkish is so embarrassing for you?”
Bahçeli said, calling on Erdoğan to give up his “crusader ambition” and to fight with Turkishness. The CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu also criticized the abolishment of the student oath, arguing that the government was really aiming to ban the phrase, “I am a Turk.”