Thousands of Turkish Students Demand Jedi Temples On Campus

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University students have been protesting against Erdogan's controversial education reforms since last year Osman Orsal/Reuters

Thousands of students across Turkey have demanded that their universities build Jedi and Buddhist temples on campus, in response to a surge in mosques being built for Muslim students.

The demands were sparked last month, when the rector of Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ), announced that “a landmark mosque”, would be built on campus due to “huge demand”, making it the first mosque to be built on the university site.

In response, more than 25,000 people signed an online petition demanding that a Buddhist temples be built as well, in order to cater for the university’s Buddhists.

“I can’t fulfill my religious needs because the closest Buddhist temple is 2,000 kilometres away, and I can’t go there during lunch break,” a petitioner named Utku Gürçağ Borataç said on the website.

According to Turkish online newspaper, Hurriyet, a number of students at Dokuz Eylül University in the western province of Izmir have demanded a Jedi temple be built on their campus.

A petition on Change.org, illustrated with a screenshot from the film Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones, had received over 5,000 signatures at the time of writing. “To recruit new Jedi and to bring balance to the Force, we want a Jedi temple,” the petition read, in reference to the Jedi knights from the popular Star Wars films.

Ever since they won power in 2002, the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have been accused by secular opponents of attempting to overhaul Turkey’s education system by making it more Islamic.

Turkey’s government-controlled religious authority, the Diyanet, announced last year that mosques were being built on campuses at more than 80 universities, and a scheme is underway to convert one Istanbul university into a centre for Islamic learning.

Last December, a government-backed education council recommended extending compulsory religious classes to all primary school pupils, as well as adding an extra hour of obligatory religious classes for all high school students.

The secularist opposition in Turkey has long accused the AKP of trying to instill conservative Islamic values into everyday life. In March 2008 Turkey’s Constitutional Court narrowly rejected a petition by the chief prosecutor to ban the AKP for allegedly seeking to establish an Islamic state.

According to data from last year, 99.8% of Turkey’s population of 81.6 million people are Muslim (mostly Sunni), and the remainder are mostly 0.2% (mostly Christians and Jews).

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