Turkish universities will no longer teach French due to anti-Qur'an comments

Being a Muslim student in France can be a tiring endeavour. You’re often not allowed to wear your hijab in university buildings, islamophobic scars are still felt from the 2015 ISIS attack in Paris and now a manifesto published in Le Parisien has called for verses of the Qur’an to be removed.

On April 22, Le Parisien published an open-letter that called for Islamic leaders to remove parts of the Qur’an which encouraged “murder and punishment of Jews, Christians and disbelievers,” arguing it promotes an anti-semitic narrative in France.

Turkey has retaliated to the open-letter by refusing to enroll any more students to study French at university level, according to Al Jazeera.

Emrullah Isler, Chairman of the Committee on National Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, in the Turkish parliament said these anti-Islamic sentiments are born out of a lack of Turkish studies in European institutions, and as such it will no longer teach French studies.

“[A] lack of university departments in France that teach in Turkish is another factor behind the decision. They need to form decent Turkology departments there,” Isler told Al Jazeera.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan added: “Have they ever read [other religions] books, the Bible? Or the Torah?” Erdogan asked, referring to the Christian and Jewish holy books. “If they had read them, they probably would want to ban the Bible.”


Muslim students already report experiencing Islamophobia while studying in France and elsewhere, according to The Conversation. It is possible that this manifesto could validate discrimination and further entrench anti-Islamic attitudes into French society.

Islam does not promote the punishment or violence towards non-Islam worshippers anymore than the other religions, according to Foreign Policy, despite the manifesto published in Le Parisien singling out Islam.

Turkey’s move to ban the teaching of French aims to change the anti-Islamic narrative in France by encouraging European universities to open up a more inclusive dialogue that recognises the religion’s place within western society.

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