MP Tuma Çelik: Non-Muslim Students provoked when asking exemption for religion classes

ANKARA – Syriac MP in the Turkish Parliament for the HDP Tuma Çelik this week complained in parliament about the way schools in Turkey provoke non-Muslim students and their parents when it comes to asking exemption for official religion classes in Turkish schools. In Turkey, lessons in religion are based on and dominated by the Islamic religion. By Turkish school law, all students are required to follow these classes.

Non-Muslim students are asked to prove their (non-Muslim) religion with official documents for them to be exempt from the compulsory religion classes in Turkish schools. Baptism certificates are for example requested to prove they are Christian. And official documents are sometimes also requested from the parents of the students, to prove that they are Christians or Jews.

In this way non-Muslim students and their parents have to go through cumbersome and unnecessary efforts to exempt their children from the official religion classes. According to Çelik, it suffices that the families of the students write a note to the school in which they request they don’t want their children to attend these religion classes because they have a different religion. But by acting this way, school administrators provoke students and their parents and put up unnecessary hindrances.

Çelik brought the issue to parliament to question the way schools deal with their non-Muslim students with regards to the religion classes and to bring attention to the case.