Turkey passes school reform law critics view as Islamic

March 30, 2012 20:45

ISTANBUL - Turkey's ruling party pushed through a school reform act on Friday that provoked brawls among parliamentarians and mass protests by secular Turks and teachers, who said the law was pushing an Islamic agenda and would lower education standards.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan sent shudders through the secular opposition earlier this year when he said his goal was to raise a "religious youth." Earlier this month, his AK Party sprang the surprise proposal to overhaul the education system.

Education has been one of the main battlegrounds between religious conservatives - who form the bedrock of AKP support - and secularists since soldier statesman Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded the Turkish republic in 1923.

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