|Thousands demand access to secular education in Turkey after hundreds of secular schools have been converted to Islamic schools. (source)|
On Feb. 13, secularists and religious minorities called a one-day school boycott to protest the introduction of compulsory religion classes in primary schools.This is not the first time the police have pepper sprayed and water bombed secular protesters -- just do a search on Youtube and you'll find this going back at least a year. Here's a short video of the February 13th protest which appears to show a country desperately trying to keep a hold on secularism.
Police responded by cracking down on demonstrations in cities across the country, using pepper spray and water cannons. They detained activists and filed charges against protest leaders for insulting the Turkish president.
I've written a bit before about
Well religious minorities along with secularists and atheists have joined forces and are risking life and limb because things have gotten really bad in Turkey.
The one-day boycott was also in response to the state’s expansion of religious secondary schools, or “Imam Hatip” institutions. Traditionally designed to train state-employed imams, the schools have expanded rapidly since the Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party came to power....
Enrollment in Imam Hatip schools has skyrocketed from 65,000 students to nearly 1 million, Erdogan said in a speech at the opening of an Imam Hatip in Ankara.
The Education Ministry’s program of converting secular high schools into Imam Hatip institutions has left many students with little option but to enroll in religious education.
Karaca said the government is opening more than twice as many Imam Hatip religious schools as traditional secular schools. “This is a political project for creating a religious generation,” he said. “They are forcing students to learn Arabic, the Quran and its interpretation in Sunni Islam.”This is state-enforced religion in a country that is ostensibly secular. It seems to me like that ship has sailed. In several parts of the country, there isn't a secular school to be found for hundreds of miles, in a country where this was the norm.
“We don’t consider ourselves religious — we come from an Alevi family background but we identify ourselves as atheists,” said Selami Sarikaya. “We don’t like this situation at all. We want these classes to be optional — the ones who want to take it can take it, but nobody should be forced.”It is now a very real battle against a clearly oppressive regime to get back what's so quickly being taken away.
I sure hope Canada never comes to this.