Until recently it was mandatory for all students in Turkey from different ethnic backgrounds to say that they are Turkish every morning. Everyday before class all children would stand in rows regardless of the weather and read what is called “Our Oath” out loud. “Let my existence be a present to the Turkish existence. How glad for those who say that they are Turkish.” is only a part of this oath that was used to brainwash the kids.
I remember when I was going to highschool, everyone hated to stand in the cold repeating the same things. They had no meaning to us. We always wondered what we were supposed to get out of it. Looking back now, the point wasn’t in the words as much as it was in the act. With this act of making everyone from toddlers to teenagers stand in rows, praising the one student who memorised the whole oath and was brave enough to read it in front of everyone, they were trying to fit all the kids in the same mould. Engraving in our young minds that it is only “true” to be way they want us to be and creating their own “Brave New World”.
The words of this oath weren’t so innocent either. Turkey is a country that 23 different minorities call home. According to United States Center for World Mission’s latest research Turkey’s biggest minority Kurds are about 20 percent of the population with 15 million 426 thousand followed by 1 million 839 thousand Arabs. Which means more than one in every five kid felt uncomfortable and out of place every morning that they went to school. Forcing a kid who is not Turkish to shout that he is true just because he is Turkish every morning is the harshest way to outcast someone. And how was a country supposed to live in peace when discrimination was thought to kids the day they started school?
It is inevitable after the removal of the initials of “Republic of Turkey” from the names of public institutions and Atatürk portraits from goverment offices, to think that the annullment of “Our Oath” is another way of the goverment to change this country to a monarchy. But I think we need to keep in mind that we share this country and in order to be peaceful we need to care about their comfort as much as ours.
*This is for the editorial assignment.