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Turkey bans student admissions to 16 French language departments

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Amid ongoing Turkish criticism of a recent statement from prominent French figures who called for the removal of some verses from the Quran, Turkey’s Higher Education Board (YÖK) on Thursday announced that it would stop accepting students to 16 French language departments in various Turkish universities, the Hürriyet daily has reported.

According to the report, there are 16 new French language departments that were to accept students as of 2018.

Nineteen other French language departments around the country will continue to operate.

The move is based on reciprocity as no Turkish language department exists at French universities, according to YÖK.

The move came days after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan strongly criticized the proposal of 300 prominent French figures on some Quranic verses.

On April 21, 300 prominent French figures, including former President Nicolas Sarkozy and former Prime Minister Manuel Valls, published a manifesto in French daily Le Parisien arguing that the Quran incites violence and insisting that “the verses of the Quran calling for murder and punishment of Jews, Christians, and nonbelievers be struck to obsolescence by religious authorities” so that “no believer can refer to a sacred text to commit a crime.”

“We will not stoop to the level of French critics of Islam by attacking their sacred values,” Turkey’s president said on Tuesday.

“I wonder if they ever read their own holy book, the Bible, or the [Jewish] Torah, or the Zabur [a holy book revealed by God before the Quran]. If they had read them, I guess they would want them to be banned. But they don’t have such a problem,” Erdoğan said.

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu also reacted call of the French figures:

“A group of prominent figures including former politicians say, ‘Some verses need to be removed from the Quran because they are out of date.’ It is you who are out of date, not the Quran.”

“There is no fight, hatred or rage in Islam, there is worthiness and peace. … It is obvious that those who made this declaration do not know what Islam is,” he said, recommending the French authors and politicians read the Prophet Muhammad’s final sermon, “considered the first human rights declaration.”

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