Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been denounced worldwide for this attack on the free speech, free speech, and democratic traditions in Turkey. He is viewed as a leader with a highly limited intellect who has used Islamic values to get Turks to give him unchecked power. Now he has fittingly rejected the concept of evolution after his government announced that the subject will no longer be taught to children because it is unproven and too controversial. Instead, Turkish children will be raised with the type of distorted, uninformed perspective of their President.
We have followed the rapid destruction of the secular government and civil liberties in Turkey under the authoritarian rule of Erdogan. Erdogan used the recent failed coup to push his effort to create a de facto Islamic regime and to complete his work in arresting his critics, including forcing the resignation of thousands of secular academics, and suspending all civil liberties in a proclaimed state of emergency. Previously, Erdogan threatened the United States if it didn’t hand Gulen over to him and that a failure to yield to his demands would be a “big mistake.” He also ordered the round up of journalists despite the fact that journalists helped him stay in power during the coup by bravely continuing to broadcast during the coup. Thousands of opponents have been arrested or questioned under those newly acquired powers. Thousands of teachers have been fired under Erdogan and tens of thousands detained since his rise to power.
Erdogan has also been mocked for both his ridiculous knowledge of history and self-portrayal as a brilliant mind. This has included the arrest of Mehmet Emin Altunses, 16, who allegedly committed the crime of “insulting” Erdoğan. calling people who use birth control “traitors” and saying Muslims discovered America, you are not allowed to be disrespectful or insulting in discussing Erdoğan. Then there was the prosecution of model and former Miss Turkey Merve Buyuksarac, 26, for criticizing Erdogan for quoting a few lines from a poem called the “Master’s Poem” from weekly Turkish satirical magazine Uykusuz. Erdoğan’s totalitarian measures have earned him the nickname “Buyuk Usta” (the Big Master). Even a joking reference to Gollum and Erdoğan is enough to land you in jail today in Turkey.
Now, Alpaslan Durmuş, who chairs the board of education, announced that evolution is “beyond their [students] comprehension” and will be removed from ninth grade biology course books. It will not be until undergraduate studies that students will be informed of evolution.
Notably, the changes in the curriculum have been timed with the Muslim Eid or Bayram festival at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. It is viewed as the latest move against secularism in Turkey. Earler, Numan Kurtulmuş, the deputy prime minister, denounced evolution as lacking support and called for a break from “Euro-centric” theories and studies.
So now Turkey will de-evolve with its intellectually challenged authoritarian leader Erdoğan. Once the greatest hope for democracy in the Muslim world, Turkey is rapidly taking on the image of Erdoğan in rejecting freedoms and knowledge in favor of a steady diet of Islamic values and xenophobic outlooks.