Children exposed to Turkish ‘propaganda’
By Kyriacos Kiliaris
The Turkish Cypriot community is in uproar after video evidence of school children being exposed to religious and political propaganda, while on a school excursion and camp at Turkey’s Canakkale, made the rounds on social media and TV.
Images of kids being preached to by organisers at the camp site added to the turmoil caused by news of underage children participating in religious lessons run by the mosques in the north.
Earlier in May, a significant part of the community had come out against obligatory religious education in the north, following a report by the TC ombudsman who found mandatory religious school lessons to be in violation of the principles of equality and freedom.
Reportedly, kids were also exposed to videos containing political propaganda favouring Turkey’s ruling AK Party and the country’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
According to accusations fired by the Turkish Cypriot secondary education teachers’ union, KTOEOS, such a video was screened before a group of students in the presence of Ozdemir Berova, the head of the north’s education office.
The teachers’ union is fuming over the matter of children being subjected to such propaganda, with head Selma Eylem addressing a series of questions to the head of the education office.
Commenting on a photo posted on Berova’s social media, depicting himself with a group of girl students, Eylem said half the children could be seen wearing headscarves. “Does the education office approve of the religious imposition forced on the children?” asked KTOEOS’ head.
KTOEOS, prior to the camp, reported that pupils had also been separated into groups according to their gender.
“Do you find the gender segregation of students to be in accordance with Turkish Cypriot culture, identity and religious beliefs?” Eylem further challenged.
The head of KTOEOS also fired accusations that the camp’s organisers were trying to promote their own political agenda to the children which takes aim at the Cyprus peace process.
In her correspondence, she claimed such parties were referring to the north of Cyprus as “Turkey’s 82nd province”.
Eylem accused Berova and the coalition of participating in plans put forward by Turkey to alter the character of Turkish Cypriot society, turning it from secular to more conservative.
“Our union will continue to fight against Turkey’s impositions, which you are applying to the letter that aim to change the modern … and democratic structure of Turkish Cypriot society,” Eylem added, in her address to the Turkish Cypriot education chief.