Education ministry sacks teacher over criticism of Erdoğan’s ‘Turkey’s Century’

A teacher who allegedly targeted “Turkey’s Century,” a campaign promise made by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to elevate Turkey to global prominence, was fired from her job and ousted from the civil service by the Education Ministry, Turkish Minute reported on Wednesday, citing the Cumhuriyet daily.

Emine Karakaş, a teacher in southern Antalya province, was briefly detained in late October for criticizing “Turkey’s Century” in a speech during the 100th anniversary celebration of the Turkish Republic, which was held on October 29.

“While on one side are those who sacrificed their lives a century ago to inscribe ‘Republic’ in the constitution, on the other side are those today trying to abolish it, attempting to make everyone believe in the ‘Turkey’s Century’ fairytale. So where are you in the midst of all this?” Karakaş said in her speech.

The teacher criticized the political climate in Turkey, the presence of a high number of refugees in the country and an ongoing economic crisis.

Karakaş, who was targeted after her speech was shared on social media, was briefly detained on charges of “provoking hatred and enmity among the public.”

Cumhuriyet reported, citing Karakaş’s lawyer, Ali Çelik, that the ministry sent a letter to the school where she worked, requesting her termination and the cessation of her salary.

Çelik also told Cumhuriyet that he filed three lawsuits demanding Karakaş’s reinstatement and the backpay due her.

Erdoğan and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, have become the seminal figures of present-day Turkey, their contrasting styles and visions defining the shape of society and the country’s place in the world.

While Erdoğan, who is now Turkey’s longest-serving leader, is overseeing a massive modernization drive that has sustained his popularity in poorer and more religiously conservative provinces since 2003, Atatürk drove out foreign armies and built a new, staunchly secular republic on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire.

Erdoğan is now walking a fine line between paying respects to the man who created the country and building his own legacy — one that critics fear is pulling Turkey back into its Ottoman past.

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