(Telegraph.co.uk)Turkish schoolchildren will no longer be taught about evolution, a government official has said, in another sign of the conservative direction the country is heading in under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Alpaslan Durmus, the head of curriculum for the ministry of education, said that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution was “controversial” and would be removed from school programmes by 2019.
“We have excluded controversial subjects for students at an age unable yet to understand the issues’ scientific background,” Mr Durmus said.
“As the students at ninth grade are not endowed with antecedents to discuss the ‘Origin of Life and Evolution’ section in biology classes, this section will be delayed until undergraduate study.”
The proposal to strip evolution from the curriculum was included in a draft proposal that has already been approved by Mr Erdogan, Mr Durmus said. The final curriculum will be released next week.
The move is part of what secular critics describe as a creeping strain of Islamism throughout Turkey’s once proudly secular state.
A group of Turkish academics criticised the move saying that it put Turkey in the same category as Saudi Arabia, where the deeply religious curriculum forbids the teaching of evolution.
“The subjects of Science and Technology classes in elementary schools should be presented with a perspective that allows students to connect it to subjects they will encounter in future years. It should provide them with an evolutionary point of view,” the academics said in a statement.
The Quran, like the Bible, teaches that Adam and Eve were the first humans. God is said to have created Adam from Clay and then formed Eve, also known as Hawwa, from Adam.
Evolution is not widely accepted among religious Muslims in Turkey, although some liberal Islamic scholars have suggested that Darwin’s theory is not incompatible with the Quran’s teachings.
The education ministry is also reportedly planning to scale back teaching about Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey and avowed secularist.
Ataturk’s legacy holds an uneasy place in Mr Erdogan’s Turkey. His image still appears on posters and in statues across the country and he is revered for having won Turkey’s independence.
But Mr Erdogan and his fellow religious conservatives have also unraveled much of the strictly secular system that he left behind, arguing that it marginalised and discriminated against religious Muslims.