Imam-hatip school promises privileges in military, police school enrollment

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (C) attends a graduation ceremony of Imam-Hatip Graduates and Members Association (ONDER) at the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stadium in Istanbul, Turkey on May 23, 2017. Berk Ozkan / Anadolu Agency

Amid ongoing debates about the Turkish military and police force falling under the control of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), an imam-hatip, or religious high school, promised its graduates preference in enrollment at military and police academies, the Sözcü daily reported on Monday.

“[Graduates] will have privileges in registering at military high schools and police academies,” said a handout prepared by the Hoca Ahmet Yesevi Anadolu Imam-Hatip High School in the western province of İzmir.

The handout, which aims to boost enrollment at the school, also underlines that since the number of courses on religious culture and moral knowledge will be increased to two hours weekly in all high schools, theology and Islamic sciences faculties will be promising for young people in the future.

Some find the Turkish government’s efforts to Islamicize the Turkish army alarming and warn that NATO risks having a member army filled with extremists.

“What we are witnessing now is a new generation which is raising within the army, and which has Islamist views. … NATO will have, in two or four years, a member army full of extremists and Salafists,” said a former senior officer from the Turkish Armed Forces … who served at SHAPE and NATO headquarters in Belgium and who was purged after an attempted coup on July 15 of last year in an interview with Vocal Europe on Monday.

Last November, regulations that task retired officers and noncommissioned officers with recruiting cadets and military personnel went into effect amid debates that this is a gift to SADAT A.S. International Defense Consulting, which has also been called President Erdoğan’s “secret army.”

According to the new regulations based on state of emergency decree No: 678 issued on Nov. 22, 2016 by the AKP government, retired officers and noncommissioned officers are to be given the responsibilities of recruitment until Dec. 31, 2020.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is also an imam-hatip graduate, and his AKP have been trying to increase the number of imam-hatip schools, which fell due to state policies following a postmodern coup on Feb. 28, 1997.

According to statistics shared by the Education Union (EğitimSen), the number of imam-hatip schools rose to 1,961 in 2015 from 450 in 2002 when Erdoğan’s AKP came to power.

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