By Mehmet Y. Yilmaz
In Sakarya University, near Istanbul, a “spring festival” was organized, as they do every year. We did not have such festivities in my college years but I have been invited to such festivals recently; they are quite fun. Pop music groups are invited; young people sing songs and have fun. I am guessing that such festivities are organized in most of the universities around the country.
However, the “Muslim Youth” in Sakarya University have opposed this festival. Sure, not everyone has to like this kind of entertainment. It could be personal reasons or ideological reasons. If you don’t like it, you would not participate in it.
If you consider this ideologically wrong, then you would make your propaganda, explain to the other students why this is wrong and aim to lessen the number of participants. When participants are fewer, then after a while they give up organizing such festivities anyway.
Democracy is this kind of a thing. If you have an idea, you explain it, you try to convince people. If you cannot persuade them, then you would not participate and protest it; it’s that simple.
However, the Muslim youth of Sakarya University were not satisfied with that. They staged a demonstration against the festival. Their picture was in the papers; it was a group of about 20.
When campus security told them it was time for them to end their demonstration, they replied, “Do you want us to raid the festival?”
Now, things change here. What do you mean “raid the festival?” If you don’t like it, then do not participate. You can even organize a meeting in another place on the campus according to your belief. Whoever wants to can join this or that gathering.
Youth means being excited, but leaving aside wisdom and moving toward violence has nothing to do with age.
I wrote this piece for you to think once more before you make a mistake.
If the Ottomans were not ignorant and bigoted
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s daughter, Esra Albayrak, participated in the 9th Teacher Symposium. Like her brother Bilal, she is also into educational affairs, helping her father to raise “pious and revengeful generations.”
According to Mrs. Esra, problems in education in Turkey started with the political reforms of the Ottoman state in 1839. She said, “Mentality problems brought by the modernization period of that time constitute the essential issues of our education system today.”
Esra Hanım is a fan of the Ottoman times like her father, which is quite fine with me. With this era, the civilization circle we belonged to was shattered; she believed and talked about rebuilding our former civilization spirit.
It is the repetition of the words we frequently hear from her father, you know, “our ancestors,” etc. When I read Mrs. Esra’s speech, I thought it over.
For instance, when Newton published his book Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica in 1687, explaining the fundamentals of classic mechanics, here, Sultan Suleiman II ascended the throne.
The Ottomans had not yet met the press; they had to wait 42 more years for that. The modernization era or whatever had not come to plant its problematic seeds in our education system either.
I can list a thousand examples, but this space is limited.
If “our ancestors” had not spent those years in deep bigotry and blind ignorance, today maybe it would have been someone among us who invented the smart phone.
If you do not give up your insistence on basing education on religious principles, then in 400 years’ time, the same will be said of this era we are experiencing now.