Back in 2012, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then prime minister, made a memorable speech to young supporters of his Justice and Development Party (AKP), calling for young generations to “pursue the causes” of their “religion” and “hatred,” among other things. Since then, he has frequently spoken of raising a “devout generation.”
During 14 years of AKP rule, the Education Ministry has seen the longest list of successive ministers, totaling six so far. In 2012, the government made fundamental changes to the education system, expanding religious classes and introducing Arabic, Quranic studies and the life of the Prophet Muhammed as elective courses in public schools. Ironically, some of the country’s earliest secular schools were established during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II, a revered figure in AKP ranks, who saw the outdated education system as a key reason why the Ottomans fell behind the West.