A book praising an Australian jihadist has been distributed among students of a public high school in the Central Anatolian province of Karaman, daily Cumhuriyet has reported. The book “Cennete Otostop -Hitchhiking to Heaven,”written by radical Islamist journalist Adam Özköse who is known as staunch supporter of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
According to a report by Hurriyet daily news on Wednesday, the book, titled “Hitchhiking to Heaven,” recounts the stories of former non-Muslims who have converted to Islam and praises an Australian convert for joining the Taliban, the militant jihadist group that controls a large portion of Afghanistan.
The story features a photograph of the so-called “Australian Taliban member” wielding a Kalashnikov. It also quotes him as saying: “I started fighting against NATO in the Taliban ranks shortly after I became a Muslim. The quality of life is much higher for Australians than Afghans. But there is no peace in Australia.”
The book was handed out to students of the only sports-focused state high school in the area as part of an initiative to create a “book group,” the readings of which would be mentored by a teacher at the school.
İsa Çetin, the Karaman branch head of the Education and Science Workers Union (Eğitim-İş), exposed the incident, describing the situation as “shameful.” “It is shameful that a government agency, responsible for the education of young people, has provided such a book. At the moment we are trying to determine whether other schools have distributed the book. We will not let fundamentalist rhetoric muddle our children’s minds,” Çetin said.
Eğitim-İş head Orhan Yıldırım has also denounced the incident. “Everyone knows that young people joining jihadist groups, especially the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant [ISIL], poses a serious threat to Turkey and many other countries. The Education Ministry is expected to enact measures to discourage such participation. Instead the opposite has occurred,” Yıldırım said.
“As a union we will complete our evaluation of the incident and then present our findings to the courts. Turkey is a secular republic and we will not tolerate those who promote jihadist terror organizations in schools,” he added.
Adem Özköse has also produced “documentaries” for the state-run TRT under the administration of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of President Erdoğan.