Turkish president aspires for ‘külliye’ instead of university campuses

Turkish president aspires for ‘külliye’ instead of university campuses

Turkish president aspires for ‘külliye’ instead of university campuses

AA Photo

A ceremony for the opening of new campus at a private university in Ankara offered a stage for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to state that his aspiration to change the jargon of politics also extends to a redesign of the lexicon of academic life.

“It would be more beautiful if we say ‘külliye’ instead of campus. Esenboğa Külliye instead of Esenboğa Campus would be more felicitous,” Erdoğan said on Jan. 7, speaking at a ceremony for the opening of the new Esenboğa Campus at the private Yıldırım Beyazıt University.

A külliye is an Ottoman architectural concept that designates a complex with a central mosque and a series of ancillary buildings - such as a hospital, library and public fountain - surrounding it.

“Such a külliye [as this one], which will have an area of one million square meters, will grow strong generations for the future,” Erdoğan said.

Turkey had already announced in November that it is planning to build 80 mosques inside university campuses across the country.

“Mosque constructions are ongoing at more than 80 universities in Turkey. We have opened 15 mosques [inside Turkish university campuses] so far. We will open 50 more by the end of 2015,” Mehmet Görmez, the president of the Directorate General for Religious Affairs (Diyanet), said at the time.

There are already mescids (prayer rooms) in many university campuses across Turkey.

In December, President Erdoğan waded into the heated debate over the possible inclusion of Ottoman language classes in the high school curriculum, vowing that the classes will be introduced “no matter what they say.”

The ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) apparent enthusiasm for the Ottoman language courses has been widely interpreted as a further sign of its wish to impose its particular interpretation of history and values in Turkey’s education system.