Turkish government to collect 518 textbooks over Gülen paranoia

Turkish Education Ministry has decided to collect and revise 518 different textbooks over the paranoia on the Gülen movement with the claim to clear alleged propaganda and controversial content, according to a report by Cumhuriyet daily on Tuesday.

The ministry’s campaign, expected to last until 2019, stems from remarks made by Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a 2017-2018 academic year opening ceremony on September 26, 2017, when the he said that measures would be taken to address the high number of complaints regarding the content of the books.

Discussions on the textbooks considered to have content related to the Gülen movement’s teachings have recently been on Turkey’s agenda. According to the report, a 7th graders’ textbook for the religious culture and moral knowledge contains a quote from the former deputy rector of Hitit University in the Central Anatolian province of Çorum, Osman Eğri who is at large and currently standing trial over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Another text in the social studies class textbook for sixth graders has also drawn reaction from the pro-government circles in Turkey for its praise of the “Interfaith Dialogue” for which the Gülen movement has been an advocate for decades.

Turkish government’s censorship efforts and its fight against education and culture had reached a new peak with the statement of Numan Kurtulmuş, Minister of Culture and Tourism, on October 11, 2017. Minister Kurtulmuş reportedly stated that Turkish government has launched legal investigation about 139,141 books and publications printed in Turkey by publishing houses affiliated with the Gülen movement.

Talking about the presence of 1,142 libraries under the administration of his ministry in Turkey,  Kurtulmuş said that the books and other publications printed by publishing houses, which were closed down by the government decrees over their alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement under the rule of emergency declared in the aftermath of controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, were withdrawn immediately from the libraries. Kurtulmuş has also said that these books were bought by the libraries or granted to libraries between 1982 and 2014.

According to a report revealed by Stockholm Centre for Freedom (SCF) on early September 2017, one of the charges used for substantiating massive arrest warrants and indictments is possession of books or other published materials by Fethullah Gülen and the publishing houses affiliated with the Gülen movement following the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

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