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Erdogan pushes religion in fight against drugs

As a solution to a growing drug epidemic in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is advocating compulsory religious education to improve moral values.
Turkish girls attend a class at the Kazim Karabekir Girls' Imam-Hatip School in Istanbul February 10, 2010. The imam-hatip network is a far cry from the western stereotype of the madrassa as an institution that teaches the Koran by rote and little else. Originally founded to educate Muslim religious functionaries in the 1920s, the imam-hatip syllabus devotes only around 40 percent of study to religious subjects like Arabic, Islamic jurisprudence and rhetoric. The rest is given over to secular topics.  To ma

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivered a searing address Sept. 29 at the Turkish Green Crescent Society’s International Drug Policy and Public Health Symposium in Istanbul. Erdogan made several headline-making” statements during the speech. One highlight was his reference to a European Court of Human Rights ruling that called on Turkey to halt compulsory religion education and moral values courses. Erdogan criticized the decision from a mind-boggling perspective, stating, "You will never see a debate over compulsory physics, mathematics or chemistry lessons, but for some reason, religion classes are always debated. If you lift compulsory religion and ethics classes, drugs, violence, and racism will fill the void." He added, “If you are asking for compulsory religion classes to be abolished, then you should not be complaining about drug addiction, violence, anti-Semitism or Islamophobia.”

Erdogan did not even spare the Islamic State (IS) in his battle cry against Turkey's problem of increasing drug abuse. He explained that there are thousands of Western fighters joining IS and stated, “I believe not all of these are Muslims. Some of them are drug addicts. Some of them are prone to violence.” He concluded that the trigger for drug addiction, terror and violence is greed.

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