Turkey announced a new school curriculum on Tuesday that excluded Charles Darwin’s theory of
evolution, feeding opposition fears President Tayyip Erdogan is subverting the republic’s secular foundations.

The chairman of a teachers’ union described the changes as a huge step in the wrong direction for Turkey’s schools and an attempt to avoid raising “generations who ask questions”.

Education Minister Ismet Yilmaz said the main elements of evolution already underpinned the science curriculum, but there would be no mention of Darwin’s landmark theory until university.

“Because it is above the students’ level and not directly related, the theory of evolution is not part” of the school curriculum, Yilmaz told a news conference.

Opposition Republican People’s Party lawmaker Mustafa Balbay said any suggestion the theory was beyond their understanding was an insult to high school students.

“You go and give an 18-year old student the right to elect and be elected, but don’t give him the right to learn about the theory of evolution…This is being close minded and ignorant.”

The theory of evolution is rejected by both Christian and Muslim creationists, who believe God created the world as described in the Bible and the Koran, making the universe and all living things in six days.

Erdogan, accused by critics of crushing democratic freedoms with tens of thousands of arrests and a clampdown on media since a failed coup last July, has in the past spoken of raising a “pious generation”.

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