Erdoğan ally outraged by court decision revoking nationalist student oath

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The leader of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and an ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has condemned Turkey’s Council of State for revoking a student oath that has long been criticized due to its ultranationalist and exclusionary content.

The Council of State, the highest administrative court in Turkey, recently decided to annul a ruling by its 8th Chamber that revoked a Ministry of Education regulation that cancelled the student oath at schools.

MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli said the Council of State’s ruling was like a “hand grenade without a pin,” at a time when the sprit of national solidarity has been strengthened after legal proceedings against “separatist” lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were sent to parliament.

Bahçeli called on the the Council of State to abandon its “mistake” and refrain from attempting to play with the historical values of the Turkish nation.

He was referring to 33 summaries of proceedings sent to parliament on Feb. 23 in a bid to remove the immunity from prosecution of at least nine HDP deputies who are accused of “instigating” street protests in Turkey’s Southeast in 2014 that claimed the lives of 37 people.

Both the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and MHP accuse the HDP, Turkey’s second-biggest opposition party, of links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) — an armed group listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU — although the HDP denies any such ties.

Erdoğan’s AKP removed the student oath from schools in 2013 in line with a settlement process launched to resolve Turkey’s long-standing Kurdish problem, which later failed.

“Lining kids up every morning and making them chant slogans from the 1930s, the Cold War and the Iron Curtain era is not nationalism. Nationalism is building classrooms where those kids can receive an education in decent conditions,” Erdoğan said back then.

Until 2013 reciting the student oath in the morning by students in schools was obligatory. The oath began with “I am a Turk, honest, and hardworking. My principle is to protect the younger and respect the elder, to love my homeland and my nation more than myself. My ideal is to rise, to progress” and ended with “My existence shall be dedicated to the Turkish existence. How happy is he who says “I am a Turk!”

Some say the Council of State’s ruling on the student oath may lead to fractures in the Public Alliance between the MHP and the ruling AKP, which joined forces before the general and presidential elections of 2018.

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