(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - The first notions of secularism in Turkey goes back to 1972, when Sultan Selim III founded the first secular military school. During the 19th century, the Islamic Ottoman Empire had many far reaching reforms including the establishment of a parliament, the abandonment of punishments of apostasy. With the fall of the Ottoman Empire after WWI came the rise of the secular and democratic Republic of Turkey.
The secular power of the religious authorities and functionaries was reduced and eventually eliminated. The religious foundations were nationalized, and religious education was restricted and for a time prohibited.
However, among the main pledges of the party, the Justice and Development party (AK), during its 2010 constitutional referendum was reforming the educational system by introducing teaching Quran and the biography of Prophet Muhammad (p). The amendment stirred an uproar of objections between secular and liberal parties as the AK steamrolled it through the committee stage. Passage of the bill that will allow schools specializing in religious education combined with a modern curriculum, known as Imam Hatip schools, to take boys and girls from the age of 11 instead of 15, and to provide optional classes in Quranic studies and the life of the Prophet Muhammad (p) in other schools was never in doubt, and it was carried by a vote of 295 to 91.
Erdogan says the new law gives people what they want, unlike the previous education regime which alienated many families who want their children to have more access to religious schooling. secular-minded families will not have to send their children to classes on religion. “Nobody is forced (to attend).”