[MGSA-L] Ottoman Turkish revival ?

June Samaras june.samaras at gmail.com
Tue Dec 9 21:54:53 PST 2014


Turks Feud Over Change in Education

ISTANBUL — President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey promised on Monday to
introduce compulsory classes in Ottoman Turkish into the national school
curriculum, regardless of public objections.

Ottoman Turkish is an older form of the national language, written in a
type of Arabic script, with many words and phrases borrowed from Arabic or
Persian. Its official use was discontinued in 1928 by Mustafa Kemal
Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, in favor of a more vernacular form
of Turkish, written with the Latin alphabet.

“There are those who do not want this to be taught,” Mr. Erdogan told the
Religion Council in Ankara on Monday. “This is a great danger. Whether they
like it or not, the Ottoman language will be learned and taught in this

Some people see Mr. Erdogan’s move as reflecting a broader goal of
restoring an Ottoman-like state. His remarks have added fuel to a debate
set off last week by the National Education Council, which proposed that
Ottoman language classes become mandatory at religious high schools and be
offered as optional electives in secular high schools. The council also
called for classes in “religious values” to be taught to children as young
as 6.

The recommendations have drawn widespread criticism from parents and
political opponents, who argue that the council — and the Islamist-led
government of Mr. Erdogan — is trying to “Islamize” the public schools and
roll back Ataturk’s secularization and modernization of Turkey.

“The education system is in shambles, but instead of introducing real
reforms, the government is pushing through irrelevant backward subjects
that do nothing more than brainwash children with their ideologies,” said
Ayse Karvan, a mother of two students at the Behcet Kemal Caglar High

“Why Ottoman?” she asked.

“The Turkish language doesn’t even have significant Ottoman roots,” Ms.
Karvan said, calling it “irrelevant.”

Mr. Erdogan argued that knowledge of the older language would help Turks
reconnect with their past and read old documents and gravestones. “History
rests in those gravestones,” he said. “Can there be a bigger weakness than
not knowing this?” He called Ataturk’s switch to vernacular Turkish and the
Latin alphabet “equal to the severing of our jugular veins.”

Mr. Erdogan’s exercise of power has stirred criticism of his government’s
measures to quash opposition and rein in the judiciary and the media, and
of his new presidential palace, with more than 1,000 rooms.

A version of this article appears in print on December 9, 2014, on page A4
of the New York edition with the headline: Turks Feud Over Change in
Education. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe

June Samaras
2020 Old Station Rd
Canada L5M 2V1
Tel : 905-542-1877
E-mail : june.samaras at gmail.com
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