The Republic of Cyprus’ Education Ministry on Tuesday withdrew from circulation a schoolbook praising founder of modern Turkey Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, saying the reference was unacceptable.
In an urgent email message on Monday, the ministry called on English teachers to “tear out page 36” from the book before handing it to the students, the Cyprus Mail reported. After heavy public criticism, the ministry decided to withdraw the book outright.
The “Oxford Discover Futures 3” English language workbook for second year high school students was produced in Britain and featured a write-up about Atatürk titled: “Turkey’s greatest hero,” the newspaper said.
“Atatürk is directly connected with crimes against humanity such as the Armenian Genocide, which is unequivocally condemned by our country as well as by the United States, France and many others. Crimes equal to the genocide of the Pontians and Assyrians, but also the criminal ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Hellenism in Smyrna and elsewhere,” the ministry said in a statement.
Modern education is based on respect for human rights and should not compromise with attempts to embellish historical crimes, it added.
Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar and Turkish Foreign Ministry condemned the act in separate statements on Wednesday.
The Republic of Cyprus’ main opposition Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL) also condemned the incident, describing it as anti-pedagogic, the Cyprus Mail said.