Turkish public school textbook portrays Arab states as lacking independence

Erdogan is posing with students of religious public school built to honour Erdogan's mother Tenzile Erdogan

Abdullah Bozkurt

Most of the countries that were established in former Ottoman territories such as Egypt. Algeria and Tunisia have failed to gain their political and economic independence, while Jordan and the Gulf countries are being challengedby competing political groups, a Turkish public school textbook printed by the government claims.

According to the textbook that is being taught in all grades in Turkey’s government-run religious high schools, known as imam-hatips, some 50 countries were established in the vast territory of the Ottoman Empire and the overwhelming majority of them are stigmatized by a lack of true independence both politically and economically.

“Nearly 50 countries were established in territory once ruled by the Ottoman Empire. They received a rich inheritance both economically and politically. However, most of these countries have been unable to achieve their political and economic independence,” the book states.

“Many countries have suffered political instability. Countries in Africa such as Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Sudan and Chad, later joined by Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, lead the pack,” it adds.


The cover of the textbook that slams Arabs and Western powers and downplays the al-Qaeda attacks in the US.


The textbook criticized established regimes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region for preventing the ascension of Muslim Brotherhood movements to power, mentioned examples from Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt and accused the rulers of these countries of not responding to or respecting the will of the people. The book states that the process of change is not over yet in some countries and praised the people for refusing to abandon their demands.


Most countries that were part of the Ottoman Empire have been unable to gain their independence, the textbook states.


It presented Egypt as an example in which elites who held the real political and economic power did not let a new regime survive, in apparent reference to the ousting of elected Muslim Brotherhood figure Mohamed Morsi. Morsi and the Brotherhood were backed by the regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose political Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) has seized all the levers of power in Turkey including judicial, legislative and military power. The Erdoğan government has detained on fabricated charges over half a million people for belonging the Gülen movement, shut down 180 media outlets and arrested close to 200 journalists in the last three years alone.


The textbook states Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and others in the MENA region are experiencing political instability.


The textbook also underlines that the real purpose of the September 2001 al-Qaeda attacks in the United States was to keep the economic and political power of the Islamic world under the control of Western powers through the fear of terrorism.

Commenting on the invasion of Afghanistan, the textbook points out that under the pretext of fighting terrorism and providing security, the US, the UK and their allies are in fact seeking to retain their global dominance and tap into precious mines in Afghanistan and neighboring countries.


The book accuses the Egyptian establishment of holding power at the expense of the people’s will and claims the 9/11 attacks were aimed at Western powers retaining global dominance.


The textbook, titled “History of Islam,” mirrors what President Erdoğan has been preaching at public rallies and meetings and apparently aims to groom the young generation in political a Islamist ideology that is full of hatred toward Arab states and the Western powers. Erdoğan has often invoked the legacy of the Ottoman Empire, presented himself as the leader of all Muslims and questioned the loss of the vast territory once under the control of the Ottomans.

The US, the UK and their allies invaded Afghanistan to seize their mines and wealth, according to the textbook.

The textbook, authored by a group of nine writers, was approved by the Ministry of Education in decision No. 4359521 on October 1, 2014, and 10,807 copies of the fifth edition were printed by the government on July 3, 2018 for distribution to schools.


The book was approved for use as a textbook by the Ministry of Education and was printed by the government for distribution.

The book is another worrying example of how the inflammatory and hateful rhetoric spewed by Turkish President Erdoğan and his associates have taken a toll on education in Turkey, with high school students being taught in school to parrot the same false narrative.

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