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Turkish military faces secularism test

As the popularity of religious vocational schools increases, the ban on the enrollment of imam-hatip graduates into military schools is being questioned.

Turkey's imam-hatip schools are vocational schools that educate state-employed imams and preachers. These schools offer primary school graduates the traditional secondary school curriculum in addition to vocational courses related to Islamic theology. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has been working hard to increase the number of imam-hatip schools. Over the past 13 years, the number of these schools went up from 450 in 2003 to 940 today, and the number of students rose from 70,000 to more than 500,000 in the same period.

The activities of the imam-hatip schools have been receiving more extensive coverage of late. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is an imam-hatip graduate along with his children, called these schools, "The hope of Turkey and the entire Muslim nation."

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