Turkish Parliament approved elective Quran course in schools
By Tousif Khan - Fri Mar 30, 11:11 am
Turkish Parliament has approved an article of a government-sponsored bill that aims to amend the country’s educational system, paving the way for an elective course on the Quran and the life of the Prophet Muhammad in schools, amidst heated debates between the opposition and the government.
Debates over Article 9 of the compulsory education bill, seeking to increase the duration of compulsory education from eight years to 12, started on Thursday. The ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) proposed article was approved amidst heated debates between the ruling and main opposition party. The proposal was approved by 306 out of 391 deputies.
According to the approved article, an elective course on the Islamic holy book the Quran and the life of the Prophet Muhammad will be available at middle schools and high schools.
The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which had previously presented a proposal similar to the AK Party’s proposal, supported the ruling party during discussions of the proposed article. However, the article caused outrage among the main opposition party.
During discussions, Republican People’s Party (CHP) parliamentary group Chairman Muharrem Ince, who delivered a speech in Parliament, accused the AK Party of manipulating religion for political gains. He argued that the AK Party is seeking to gain votes by using religion in politics.
Speaking to the press about the article upon his return to Turkey late on Thursday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized protests by the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK) and the Education Personnel Union (Egitim-Sen) against the bill on Thursday, in which police and demonstrators clashed. Police using high-pressure water cannons and teargas on protestors. Erdogan said the proposed Quran course would be an elective, and thus not compulsory.
“Those who don’t want to attend such courses are free not to attend them. We won’t force KESK members or their children to attend these courses. Why are they reacting in such a way to the article then?” he asked. Erdogan also thanked MHP deputies for their support during the open vote in Parliament.
Courtesy: Today’s Zaman