Concern that secular schools are being closed in Turkey

The Guardian has reported that families in Turkey are finding it increasingly difficult to find a school for their children that does not teach Sunni Islamic religion and Sunni religious practices. Critics have suggested that the government of the ruling Turkish Justice and Development party (AKP) is seeking to reshape the system along Sunni Islamic lines. Recent government moves to convert a large number of secular schools into Imam Hatip religious schools has added to the controversy.

Under a scheme introduced by the government last year, about 40,000 pupils were forcibly enrolled in religious Imam Hatip schools, Turkish media reported. In some districts religious vocational schools were suddenly the only alternative for parents who could not afford to educate their children privately. “There is nothing wrong with providing religious education to a pious section of society,” said Kenan Çayir, who teaches sociology at Bilgi University in Istanbul. “But it becomes a problem if parents and students are suddenly being robbed of making a choice.”