National Education Minister İsmet Yılmaz has said his ministry is ready to change school textbooks in order to take out all bigoted references to Alevis that currently appear in them.
Speaking during Parliament's National Education, Youth and Sports Commission's discussions of legislative decrees concerning the ministry's organization and functions, Yılmaz said, "The Education Ministry will remove all the anti-Alevi rhetoric from taught or suggested school publications," further emphasizing, "If you encounter disturbing expressions like these related to the general national education policies of Turkey under the aegis of the ministry, please bring them to us and we are ready to change them all."
Answering questions from deputies, Yılmaz responded to claims that a book by author Nurettin Topçu criticizing Alevis is among the books teachers requested to be examined for their seminary studies at the end of the term. He said, "Not only Topçu's, but also Peyami Safa's, Oğuz Atay's, Çiğdem Kağıtçıbaşı's and Jean-Jacques Rousseau's books are also on the list of books to be re-examined."
Troubling parts in the book that define Alevism as a "refuted" sect and a "crooked mentality" have recently sparked many debates, as Topçu's book was among the list of books the Education Ministry sent to teachers.
Yılmaz said he does not agree with the terms used in Topçu's book, saying that the commonalities of people who live in Turkey is much greater than their differences. "We will all live together and consider our differences as our richness. We do not have any other countries or anywhere else to go," he added.
Further commenting on the school curriculum, Yılmaz said:"Maybe we have to decrease the number of courses. Students should not leave one class and run to another. I think a better education can be provided by carrying out playing, teaching and resting all together."
Alevis are the second largest religious faith community in Turkey. However, language, belief and ethnic background is not registered in the national census; therefore, it is not possible to have official statistics about the number of Alevis. On the basis of reliable academic research, the population of Alevis is estimated at approximately 20 million out of a total population of 77 million in Turkey.