New Israeli Study: Turkish schoolbooks promote Sunni religious intolerance, “Christians and Jews are characterized as infidels instead of People of the Book”

RAMAT GAN, ISRAEL – A new study published this week by the Israeli Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) reveals that the Turkish curriculum under the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is promoting more extremist ideas. In its study “The Erdoğan Revolution in the Turkish Curriculum Textbooks”, IMPACT-se warns against the trend of ethnic and religious nationalism where, “there is an emphasis on concepts such as “Turkish World Domination” and Turkish or Ottoman “Ideal of the World Order.” This is in contrast to a more tolerant and culturally open and inclusive trend in the curriculum in the pre-AKP period.

IMPACT-se is based in Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv, and an institute which exposes intolerance in school textbooks of the Middle East in particular. According to the IMPACT-se report, “tolerance has dwindled as the curriculum has been radicalized. Jihad war has been introduced into textbooks and turned into the “new normal,” with martyrdom in battle glorified. Ethno-nationalist religious objectives manifested in neo-Ottomanism and pan-Turkism are taught. Thus, Islam is depicted as a political matter, with science and technology used to advance its goals. No caveats are apparently offered regarding the inherent radicalism to such a historical resurgence.”

The study which focuses on Turkish textbooks also states that the identity and cultural needs of the nationalities in Turkey are largely ignored, in addition to introducing some anti-Christian and anti-Jewish sentiments. Where schoolbooks previously mentioned Christians and Jews as “People of the Book”, the term “gavur” or “infidels” is used. And, although the Alevi tradition is acknowledged as a denomination under Islam, religious teaching is focused on Sunni teachings only; “the 1955 pogroms against Istanbul’s Greek community are ignored.” The IMPACT-se report has no mention of the indigenous Syriacs in Turkey or the Genocide of 1915.