A group of Alevi associations have staged a protest against compulsory religion classes in Turkish schools, in front of the Education Ministry’s provincial building in Istanbul’s Cağaloğlu neighborhood.
A group of around 50 people laid a black wreath in front of the building, while also holding placards reading “Democratic struggle against sectarian education,” and “We don’t want compulsory religion classes.”
Alevi Associations Federation head Rıza Eroğlu read a statement on behalf of the group during the protest, saying the government had failed to accomplish its duty to improve the education system and still maintained “discriminatory policies in education.”
He called on the government to remove compulsory religion classes from school syllabuses and also accused it of transforming a “majority” of Turkey’s secondary schools into religious imam hatip schools.
Several children also took part in the protest, holding placards.
On Sept. 16, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that the Turkish education system was “still inadequately equipped to ensure respect for parents’ convictions” and violated the “right to education,” in a case stemming from Alevicomplaints about mandatory religious classes. Alevis say the classes overwhelmingly favor the Sunni interpretation of Islam, subscribed to by a majority of Turks.
Referring to the ECHR’s ruling, Eroğlu said Alevi parents would not allow their children to take obligatory religion classes, regardless of the consequences.