World Bulletin / News Desk
The Education Council in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) has agreed to push for the lifting of Religious Studies classes from schools as well as the closure of the newly opened Islamic Theology College.
In the meeting of a total of 166 representatives and 120 observers, the council also decided to follow in Turkey's footsteps by removing the obligatory oath of allegiance, as well as the setting of compulsory education to 11 years.
The joint decisions of the Turkish Cypriot Teachers' Union (KTOS), Turkish Cypriot Secondary Education Teachers' Union (KTOEOS) and the Eastern Mediterranean University Academic Staff Union was protested by the TRNC education minister Mustafa Arabacioglu, who stormed out of the meeting.
The Council now has 15 days to notify the Board of Ministers and have their decisions published in the Official Gazette.
Religious Studies lessons and the Islamic Theology College, which was only officially opened in September, have been the target of many protests led by the Turkish Cypriot Teachers' Union, who deem them to be threats to the country's secular nature.
Summer time Qur'an courses for children have been raided and halted a number of times by the Turkish Cypriot Teachers' Union a number of times since they began in 2010. While most Turkish Cypriots have expressed no opposition to the courses or the Islamic Theology College, KTOS general secretary Sener Elcil has led his union in many campaigns against them.
The TRNC is a predominently Muslim country which was founded upon strict secular principles in imitation of Turkey. Although Turkey has allowed more freedoms for religious life since reforms both before and after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's 'democratization packet', the TRNC is still struggling to overcome many of the systematic restrictions on religious life.Last Mod: 15 Mart 2014, 13:36