Turkey respects its minorities, Step 1

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Mon Feb 23 17:51:43 UTC 2009

Turkey respects its minorities, Step 1

According to Bianet Turkish news agency, Turkey's Higher Education
Council (YÖK) is getting ready to improve its policy concerning
minority religious and ethnic holidays as the reactions to its
original circular have been rather mixed.

According to Hürriyet daily, the YÖK original circular to all
university rectors allowed Turkish institutions to excuse some
Armenian and Jewish students as well as the academic staff during
their religious holidays. Copies of the circular were also sent to the
Armenian Patriarchy and to the chief Rabbi's Office. This was the
first time that the minority religious holidays were recognized at
institutional level. Prof. Dr. Ayhan Aktar whom Bianet interviewed
described the move as a positive step but said it would not be enough
as it excludes the other non-Muslim groups. The circular leaves out
the Syrians, the Greeks, the Chaldeans, and the non-Muslim Turks.

Other academics … said that it was wrong to categorize students using
terms such as "Ermeni" (Armenian) or "Rum" (Greek). The holidays
listed in the circular as Armenian holidays are the holidays of the
Apostolic Armenian Church. But there are Catholic Armenians and …
Chaldeans are Catholic as well. Their holidays are different. The …
Orthodox Greeks have been excluded, too.

… These academics believe that if there is going to be a practice like
this, it should be based on religions and not ethnicity.

…There are also academics who say that it is wrong to include only the
monotheistic religions - all religions should be included….


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