Turkey was long a bastion of secular politics — a rare position in the Muslim world. After the ascension of an Islamic party-controlled government, however, religious extremism is taking hold in a variety of areas to the alarm of civil libertarians in Turkey and around the world. The most recent example is a series of books issued to schoolchildren that are filled with anti-Semitic and anti-Darwinian references. Darwin is actually described as a Jew (he wasn’t) with a big nose and a weird fetish for monkeys.
Children in the Maltepe district of Istanbul were issued the books at the demand of the local education authority — a situation reminiscent of our own struggle with local school boards in the United States pushing creationist and anti-evolution material.
The new Islamist government has increased the number of religious schools and required the offering of classes on Mohammed in state schools. Islamic leaders view public education as a barrier to their attack on secular government and society.
In the latest outrage, the children were given books that describe Albert Einstein as a “filthy and slovenly” Jews who ate soap, adding “The sad part is during that time the Gestapo was putting Jews into ovens and making them into soap.”
The children are told that Darwin “had two problems: first he was a Jew; second, he hated his prominent forehead, big nose and misshapen teeth.” Rather than go to school, the book says Darwin would just go the zoo and throw nuts to the monkeys. Ironically, Darwin was not only not Jewish but he originally went to Cambridge to enter the Anglican ministry as part of the Church of England.
What is astonishing is how these books not only openly propogandize history and science but make up facts to achieve those ends. It does, of course, more than warp the student’s knowledge of history and science, it inculcates anti-Semitic views in these children — views that are likely to remain with them as adults.