Fears of forced hijab fuel alarm over Turkey’s Islamic school surge
ISTANBUL (AFP) – When Turkish pupils received their school entry exam results after the end of last term, textile worker and father Halil Ibrahim Beyhan received a surprise that was unpleasant to him.
His daughter had been assigned to a religious high school, like thousands of other students under a new system that caught many parents off guard.
According to Aquila Style, parents, educators and civil society groups have decried the move as another attack on Turkey’s secular principles by the Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) co-founded by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accusing the government of imposing religion on students.
“My child will be forced to wear a long skirt. She will be forced to put a headscarf on her head too. It is not mandatory for now, but who knows it won’t be one day?” said Beyhan, 49.
“I am a practicing Muslim, I fast, I say my prayers and read the Qur‘an, but I still want my daughter to be educated in a normal school,” he said.
As part of a new nationwide exam introduced this year, some 40,000 students have been assigned to religious high schools either because they did not select any school, scored low marks or due to a technicality.
Most of them have been placed in schools nearest their home, but since so many religious schools have opened in recent years, it was difficult for some to avoid Imam Hatips — schools specializing in religious education combined with a modern curriculum.
Erdogan himself was educated in Istanbul at an Imam Hatip, beginning an education that saw him gain a place at university and then climb the ladder of Islamic politics. The name of the schools openly describes their religious vocation — Hatip being derived from the Arabic for sermon.
For more details please check Aquila Style