ΑΝΚΑRA — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned the self-declared Turkish republic on the occupied northern third of Cyprus to reverse a court decision that regulates educational courses, including for the Koran.
“The Constitutional Court must first learn secularism. Northern Cyprus is not France,” he said, using the name only Turkey does for the occupied territory that no other country in the world recognizes.
“They should carry Turkey's habits into practice. (They) should quickly correct this mistake, otherwise our next steps will be different,” he said, Middle East Eye reported of his reaction.
The court said that educational courses must be overseen and reviewed by the self-declared ministry of education and not a religious commission but Erdogan wants no restrictions.
Court sources not named, the site said, told media on the occupied side the decision doesn't ban the teachings of the Koran and the leader of the Turkish-Cypriot side, Ersin Tatar – who follows Erdogan faithfully – said it doesn't.
"The courses will continue after we finalize the legal amendments on the issue," he said, Erdogan's veiled threat still in the air as he ordered the court to do his bidding and overturn its own decision.
He instructed Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to carry the message to Turkish Cypriot officials in a visit scheduled for April 23. “We will not allow steps that could disrupt the youth’s Koranic training,” Erdogan added, the site said.
Since the hardline nationalist Tatar – backed by Erdogan – won October, 2020 elections in ousting moderate Mustafa Akinci, the Turkish-Cypriot side has increasingly come under Erdogan's thumb and his edicts.
Pro-Turkish government media also heavily depicted Akinci as a Greek agent and a traitor, the site said, as he opposed Erdogan and Tatar's insistence not to reunify the island but seek two separate states, rejected by the legitimate government on the Greek-Cypriot side, a member of the European Union.