“If you ask them who Einstein is, every young person has something to say about him. If you ask who Ibn Sina is, you see the child has never heard about him,” Erdogan told a teachers’ forum in the southern city of Antalya.
Ibn Sina, more commonly known in as Avicenna, was an 11th century Islamic philosopher, doctor and scientist. The Persian polymath is considered one of the most remarkable thinkers of the Islamic Golden Age, during the Middle Ages, when Islamic caliphates propounded scientific advances.
Erdogan, a pious Muslim who took over Turkey’s presidency in August after serving as prime minister for more a decade, has sought to reinforce the image of Islam in his nation. His increasingly strident campaign has detractors fearing he aims to overturn Turkey’s longstanding secular principles.
Erodgan last month stirred bemusement by declaring that Muslims travelled to the Americas nearly three centuries before Christopher Columbus.
Although the claim was mocked at home and abroad, the president hit back by saying that the Muslim “discovery” should be taught in Turkish schools and that his domestic critics were guilty of an “ego complex” for denying his assertion.
On Tuesday, Erdogan said Turkish students should know about Turkish musicians as much as they do know about foreign composers.
“Our students should also learn about, know and listen to Itri and Dede Efendi, the same as they know about Beethoven,” he said, making references to Ottoman-era classical composers alongside the German composer.
“Our students should know about their own language and the words, works and art of their ancestors without any complex, as much as they learn other cultures and languages,” he added.
“We should not forget that whoever imitates or goes after (others) will stand one step behind.” -AFP