The steady Islamization of Turkey is not new. Since 2002, the government has built 17,000 new mosques, and its goals stretch beyond Turkish borders. Robert Spencer speculated on January 16 that the “reason why Erdogan has been so notably dilatory in fighting against the Islamic State may be that he wants to co-opt its caliphate and incorporate it in a neo-Ottoman caliphate centered in Istanbul.” Although the Islamic State lost most of its territory in the intervening year, that was no thanks to Erdogan. And now the Turkish leader has stated that one of his goals is to “forge a ‘pious generation’ in predominantly Muslim Turkey ‘that will work for the construction of a new civilization.’” Reuters has observed that Erdogan’s speeches have increasingly “emphasized Turkey’s Ottoman history and domestic achievements over Western ideas and influence.”
Erdogan’s ambitions are true to his orthodox beliefs in Islamic expansionism. He has boldly extended his reach of influence beyond the borders of Turkey. He got into a row with Europe over Germany and the Netherlands blocking his proxies from holding open campaign rallies among the millions of Turks living in those countries, as Erdogan pushed for a referendum victory for constitutional changes that would give him virtually unlimited power.
He continued on his rampage against Europe when the European Court of Justice (ECJ) allowed employers to ban the headscarf, accusing Europe of starting a battle between Christianity and Islam and a clash between the cross and the crescent. This was despite the ECJ making it clear that banning “any political, philosophical or religious sign” was not deemed to be discriminatory.
Also, due to Turkey’s firing and “jailing of tens of thousands of soldiers, police, teachers and civil servants following a failed military coup in July 2016,” he accused European critics of “Islamophobia” for merely questioning his human rights record.
Erdogan is now preparing the younger generation for his vision of Islamic expansion as he pours “billions of dollars into religious education, including a 100 percent increase in funding for ‘Imam and Preacher’ religious academies.” 90,000 mosques across Turkey are also now praying “Qur’anic ‘conquest’ prayers” calling on Muslims to be “ruthless against unbelievers.”
Less than two weeks ago, a primary school in Istanbul that erected a memorial to commemorate those who lost their lives in the failed July coup attempt displayed a caption which read:
Whatever you do, you will not stop the rise of the Turkish nation. Whatever you do, the victory will be of Islam.
Turkey’s recent attacks on Kurdish-controlled areas in Syria have been causing increasing tensions with America, as Erdogan takes up the historic Turkish mission to crush Kurdish nationalism, mission the Turks have been pursuing since the fall of the Ottoman empire.
Fortunately, the Turkish public is not united in its support for Erdogan’s despotic ambitions, even as he cracks down on any dissent.
“Erdogan: Islamic Education Will Forge ‘Pious Generation’ to Build ‘New Civilization’ for Turkey” , by John Hayward, Breitbart, January 25, 2018:
Turkey was long renowned for its secular government, a modern state guided by the vision of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk when he built the Republic of Turkey from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire in the early years of the last century. The current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has the opposite vision of Turkey as a Muslim state at the heart of a new Ottoman Empire. A report from Reuters examines one of the means Erdogan is using to achieve this goal: Islamic education in Turkish schools.
The current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has the opposite vision of Turkey as a Muslim state at the heart of a new Ottoman Empire. A new report from Reuters examines one of the means Erdogan is using to achieve this goal: Islamic education in Turkish schools.
“Erdogan has said one of his goals is to forge a ‘pious generation’ in predominantly Muslim Turkey ‘that will work for the construction of a new civilization.’ His recent speeches have emphasized Turkey’s Ottoman history and domestic achievements over Western ideas and influences,” Reuters observes.
Erdogan’s “drive to put religion at the heart of national life after decades of secular dominance” includes pouring “billions of dollars into religious education,” including a 100 percent increase in funding for “Imam and Preacher” religious academies. Those schools already get double the per-pupil funding of regular Turkish schools but dramatically underperform on standard tests.
In fact, the academic performance of the religious schools was so poor that total enrollment actually slipped last year, even though funding is surging and hundreds more of them are under construction, along with secular schools receiving more religious education or being outright converted into Imam and Preacher academies. One mother interviewed for the article complained that the Islamic wing of her son’s school is visibly nicer and less overcrowded than the secular wing. Other parents said their children were simply kicked out of a middle school that converted into an imam and preacher academy, cutting its total enrollment in half.
“Islam is not being forced on people. It is not a matter of saying everyone should go to Imam Hatips. We are just providing an opportunity to those families who want to send their children to Imam Hatips,” a government adviser told Reuters, using the Turkish name for the religious schools.
On the other hand, the article goes on to quote secular parents worried about the astounding surge of Turkish religious education during the past five years. Turks from faiths other than Sunni Islam were nervous as well, expressing fears that Imam Hatip credentials will either quietly or overtly become a requirement for landing good jobs in Turkey, effectively pressuring parents to convert their children to Islam. Religious education is compulsory in Turkey, although some parents fight in court for the right to exempt their children.
Defenders of the religious schools claim they are surging back after previous governments suppressed them, in response to growing Turkish suspicion of Western ideals and a desire for more moral instruction for children.
Al-Monitor speculated on Tuesday that Erdogan’s drive to Islamicize Turkey is faltering, in part because the public is growing fatigued with the fiery leader and his endless crackdowns on dissent and because his presidency has been so divisive among ethnic and religious groups. The article cited the poor academic performance of Imam Hatip schools as one sign that Erdogan and the Muslim Brotherhood are losing their grip on the country.
Some of the other indicators described by Al-Monitor have a sad-trombone comedic quality to them, like Erdogan asking a rally, “Who does the Islamic world look up to?” and losing his composure when they did not reply or growing even angrier when he castigated a Kurdish town for voting against his assumption of dictatorial powers last year, and the crowd broke into thunderous applause instead of booing as he expected…..