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Thread: Cyprus: Teachers asked to tear out controversial page from schoolbooks.

  1. #1
    Abdülmecid I's Avatar ¡Ay Carmela!
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    Default Cyprus: Teachers asked to tear out controversial page from schoolbooks.

    The Ministry of Education in Cyprus instructed the teachers of public schools to remove a controversial page from the English language schoolbooks. The teachers unexpectedly reacted to this rather archaic method of censorship, so the Ministry ordered instead the withdrawal of the offensive books. The text that sparked the outrage was a small vocabulary exercise about Kemal Atatürk, which described the positive image of in the Turkish Republic of its first president.



    In my opinion, this is a clear case of censorship for the sake of nationalist political correctness and rather embarrassing for a country that has joined the European Union. It doesn't seem to be an isolated case either. A few months ago, a headmaster was investigated and censured by the Ministry of Education. The reason was that the Orthodox Church and the association of the EOKA veterans [a terrorist group responsible for murdering hundreds of Cypriot (both Turkish and Greek) and British civilians] complained that his paintings were blasphemous and lacking in "national spirit'.



    So, although last summer there were misleading news about ancient Greek being removed from the curriculum for the sake of "racial equity", it looks like the hit to a free and unbiased education came from the opposite side. Do you think that controversies like the Kemal affair in Cyprus indicate a return to obscurantism or are they a sign of gradual progress being made, despite the protests of society's most reactionary elements?
    Last edited by Abdülmecid I; September 08, 2021 at 02:31 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Cyprus: Teachers asked to tear out controversial page from schoolbooks.

    I don't really see how removal of praise to a genocidal war criminal who also took part in one of the biggest genocides of XX century is a "hit on free and unbiased education", if anything its the opposite.

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    alhoon's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Cyprus: Teachers asked to tear out controversial page from schoolbooks.

    I am against censorship except in the cases that it offends tens of thousands of people that lost their homes to Turkish aggression in the past 40 years or praising the memory of a bloody dictator that instigated the eradication of Hellenism from half of our ancestral lands after 5000 years.

    This is indeed censorship, I am not going to lie. But I applaud the Cypriot state for doing it. We need to remember that Kemal was not a good happenstance to Greeks, even if he was a good leader to Turks. Greece would have been magnitudes of Order better if Kemal was never born. The Entente may have knocked the Ottomans out of the war earlier if it wasn't for Kemal.
    Last edited by alhoon; September 08, 2021 at 03:29 PM.
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    Default Re: Cyprus: Teachers asked to tear out controversial page from schoolbooks.

    I think instead of removing that page, they should have just edited it, listing his war crimes against Armenians and Greeks, probably listing him in same section with other famous war criminals in history.

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    Abdülmecid I's Avatar ¡Ay Carmela!
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    Default Re: Cyprus: Teachers asked to tear out controversial page from schoolbooks.

    Even in Greece there were no Greeks 5.000 years ago. Anyway, Cyprus is not Greece, however, so I don't think this should be relevant. Cyprus was not even part of the Ottoman Empire during WWI. In any case, even if Kemal is unanimously despised in Cyprus, this is still not a sufficient legal justification for the page's removal. Anyway, as the second example about the teacher implies, I don't think Kemal is the crux of the matter here. It looks more like an effort from conservative institutions to protect the dominant narrative from any threat, real or imaginary, that might challenge it. That being said, I would argue that ordering public servants to tear out inconvenient pages probably achieves the opposite result. It might rally the most nationalistic elements to the government, but many moderates will probably alienated by such a brutal attempt at censorship. Not to mention the fact that the controversial page has now spread to the social media, including TWC itself.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Cyprus: Teachers asked to tear out controversial page from schoolbooks.

    There were no Turks in Anatolia 1500 years ago either. Cyprus is certainly Greek, at least as far as people that live there identify themselves. Given the genocidal history that Greek regions have with Ottoman and Turkish incursions, its pretty clear that this isn't an act of censorship, but rather a rushed fix to an error that was having such a section in textbook in the first place. I'm sure that OP would decry someone dedicating such a section, to, say, Serbian warlord from 90s Balkan wars and praise its removal.
    Like I said, they should have just added the Kemal to list of other genocidal lunatics like Pol Pot and be done with it.

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    alhoon's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Cyprus: Teachers asked to tear out controversial page from schoolbooks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Abdülmecid I View Post
    Even in Greece there were no Greeks 5.000 years ago. Anyway, Cyprus is not Greece, however, so I don't think this should be relevant. Cyprus was not even part of the Ottoman Empire during WWI. In any case, even if Kemal is unanimously despised in Cyprus, this is still not a sufficient legal justification for the page's removal. Anyway, as the second example about the teacher implies, I don't think Kemal is the crux of the matter here. It looks more like an effort from conservative institutions to protect the dominant narrative from any threat, real or imaginary, that might challenge it. That being said, I would argue that ordering public servants to tear out inconvenient pages probably achieves the opposite result. It might rally the most nationalistic elements to the government, but many moderates will probably alienated by such a brutal attempt at censorship. Not to mention the fact that the controversial page has now spread to the social media, including TWC itself.
    There were Greeks in Greece 5200 years ago and in Ionia further back. Cyprus is not "Greece" but a good part of it is inhabited by Greeks. Sure, were not the same state, but we have the same people. Similar to the city with the 3rd most Greeks: Chicago with its 120K Greeks.
    Those Chicago Greeks would probably applaud the blatant censorship and over-reach of the Cypriot education ministry. We really don't like that fellow in Greece (and affiliates - like Cyprus and Greek communities).
    That Cyprus (and some of the Diaspora) didn't live under the Ottomans at the time doesn't stop fellow Greeks from hating that guy. I also don't like the people that oppressed Greeks away from Greece. Like the Taliban with Nuristanis.

    " many moderates will probably alienated by such a brutal attempt at censorship." Citation needed. Most moderate Greek Cypriots, even a good portion of progressive Cypriots, would applaud the move. They really don't like Kemal there.


    " Not to mention the fact that the controversial page has now spread to the social media, including TWC itself."
    In that case, I don't see it gathering steam. The Controversial page is so controversial that few would really care.

    And as for spreading the page: I am not against censorship in this case, but I am pro freedom of speech even in this case. I.e. I wouldn't want that crap in my kids' books but I want the state to allow me to put that page in facebook or go to TWC and rant about censorship.


    But seriously, calling Kemal a "Moral" leader that worked "selflessly" to create a democracy - when he created a quasi-dictatorship with the blood of my great grandparents and some of my grandmother's brothers - is stunning.
    Last edited by alhoon; September 08, 2021 at 05:12 PM.
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    Muizer's Avatar member 3519
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    Default Re: Cyprus: Teachers asked to tear out controversial page from schoolbooks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Abdülmecid I View Post
    In my opinion, this is a clear case of censorship for the sake of nationalist political correctness and rather embarrassing for a country that has joined the European Union.
    I'm a bit surprised by your reaction. If anything, the use of a piece praising a great leader in a vocabulary exercise has the appearance of a state propaganda. It's the kind of thing I'd expect to find in North Korean school books. Whether or not it was intended as such, that's what it looks like.
    "Lay these words to heart, Lucilius, that you may scorn the pleasure which comes from the applause of the majority. Many men praise you; but have you any reason for being pleased with yourself, if you are a person whom the many can understand?" - Lucius Annaeus Seneca -

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    Tribunus
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    Default Re: Cyprus: Teachers asked to tear out controversial page from schoolbooks.

    ...its an English language exercise. It doesn't need to be true, but simplistically put the statements about Kemal are ones a reasonable person might make. He is definitely Turkiyye's founding hero, and probably their greatest hero to date.

    Obviously we shouldn't give children recipes to make meth so not everything should be broadcast, but most censorship is dismal and an admission the censor has little better to say.
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    Sir Adrian's Avatar the Imperishable
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    Default Re: Cyprus: Teachers asked to tear out controversial page from schoolbooks.

    Removing a page on Ataturk when a third of the country is suffering under one of the most brutal illegal occupations of the 21st century is not really all that far fetched. Once can see why people in Cyprus have had a little too much Turkey for their own taste.

    As for the paintings, they are about as blasphemous as a Muslim drawing Mohamed in a homoerotic relationship with Uncle Sam.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    ...its an English language exercise. It doesn't need to be true, but simplistically put the statements about Kemal are ones a reasonable person might make. He is definitely Turkiyye's founding hero, and probably their greatest hero to date.

    Obviously we shouldn't give children recipes to make meth so not everything should be broadcast, but most censorship is dismal and an admission the censor has little better to say.
    There's really no need to use Ataturk at all. School children that age don't know or care who he was.
    Last edited by Sir Adrian; September 08, 2021 at 05:29 PM.
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    Abdülmecid I's Avatar ¡Ay Carmela!
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    Default Re: Cyprus: Teachers asked to tear out controversial page from schoolbooks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Muizer View Post
    I'm a bit surprised by your reaction. If anything, the use of a piece praising a great leader in a vocabulary exercise has the appearance of a state propaganda. It's the kind of thing I'd expect to find in North Korean school books. Whether or not it was intended as such, that's what it looks like.
    I think you really underestimate the preponderance of personality cults. Glorifying texts like these are pretty common almost everywhere, European countries included. It's not limited to state propaganda and I would argue that it's much more common in mainstream, private media, where nationalism tends to be more acceptable than in public services. Foreign language exercises about text comprehension usually consist of a simplistic summary of a concept or person, as uncontroversial as possible. They may include as diverse topics as William Tell/Edelweiss for Switzerland and Pedro I/the Amazon river for Brazil. National heroes are a useful, no-risk example, because of their supposedly universal approval. I agree that they lack nuance and are largely inaccurate, but I don't think it has the appearance of state propaganda, especially considering the larger context. After all, it was not removed for being state propaganda, but for disputing the official narrative.
    Quote Originally Posted by alhoon View Post
    Citation needed.
    Well, I admit I don't have a poll, but the article mentions that there was a widespread negative reaction from the teachers and the public, which is actually what convinced the Ministry to cancel its first instruction about book vandalism and call instead for its withdrawal.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Cyprus: Teachers asked to tear out controversial page from schoolbooks.

    I have no problem with any of this. Cyprus has no first amendment and speech isn't free anywhere in Europe.
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    Default Re: Cyprus: Teachers asked to tear out controversial page from schoolbooks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slaytaninc View Post
    I have no problem with any of this. Cyprus has no first amendment and speech isn't free anywhere in Europe.
    The First Amendment doesn't give teachers carte blanche in the classroom nor does it prevent govt. entitles from setting curricula (which may mandate the use of particular resources). Characterizing the removal of a textbook as an "attempt at brutal censorship" is histrionic, esp. given the content of the offending page.



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    alhoon's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Cyprus: Teachers asked to tear out controversial page from schoolbooks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    Obviously we shouldn't give children recipes to make meth so not everything should be broadcast, but most censorship is dismal and an admission the censor has little better to say.
    While that is true about most Censorship, in this case the censor had better things to say: List Kemal's atrocities. But then, the censor would be hit with promoting hate. Censoring the passage was the best option.

    Quote Originally Posted by Abdülmecid I View Post
    I think you really underestimate the preponderance of personality cults. Glorifying texts like these are pretty common almost everywhere, European countries included. It's not limited to state propaganda and I would argue that it's much more common in mainstream, private media, where nationalism tends to be more acceptable than in public services. Foreign language exercises about text comprehension usually consist of a simplistic summary of a concept or person, as uncontroversial as possible. They may include as diverse topics as William Tell/Edelweiss for Switzerland and Pedro I/the Amazon river for Brazil. National heroes are a useful, no-risk example, because of their supposedly universal approval. I agree that they lack nuance and are largely inaccurate, but I don't think it has the appearance of state propaganda, especially considering the larger context. After all, it was not removed for being state propaganda, but for disputing the official narrative.
    Kemal is not an uncontroversial choice. This is like putting a glowing reference about Putin in an English textbook, stating how he selflessly worked to get Russia out of the Yeltsin Mire and brought it to the 21st century, improved the economic situation and thus, making it a respected regional power again that didn't just had to rely on its aging nuclear arsenal to be heard.


    You mentioned Pedro I for Brazil. Putting Kemal there is actually closer to putting the brutal dictator Medici there mentioning the "Brazilian Miracle" and the defeat of the insurgents, without mentioning the tens of thousands of executions and torture.

    I don't think many would say these are an uncontroversial choice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Abdülmecid I View Post
    Well, I admit I don't have a poll, but the article mentions that there was a widespread negative reaction from the teachers and the public, which is actually what convinced the Ministry to cancel its first instruction about book vandalism and call instead for its withdrawal.
    "Widespread negative reaction" could be 1200 idiots on tweeter and their 2000 non Cypriot, Turkish friends across the border.
    I would also call for the withdrawal of that book because if it presents Kemal that way, I would expect it to be a crappy book that presents a glorified look to other controversial issues. I don't want the younger generation to read that book and I don't want the public schools that my taxes pay to give money to the company that made that book.

    I don't want the book burned BTW and I think withdrawing it is better than vandalizing it, despite me believing it's worthy of vandalism.
    There's a difference between "I don't want that book taught to my kids" and "I want that page/book burned".
    alhoon is not a member of the infamous Hoons: a (fictional) nazi-sympathizer KKK clan. Of course, no Hoon would openly admit affiliation to the uninitiated.
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    Abdülmecid I's Avatar ¡Ay Carmela!
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    Default Re: Cyprus: Teachers asked to tear out controversial page from schoolbooks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slaytaninc View Post
    I have no problem with any of this. Cyprus has no first amendment and speech isn't free anywhere in Europe.
    I don't think the freedom of expression applies for the "Kemal" affair, but it does for the case of the investigated headmaster. There is no clause for free speech in the Cypriot constitution, but freedom of expression is enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights, to which Cyprus is a signatory. According to the article in question, there are some exceptions, where freedom of expression can be curtailed, like for the sake of protecting the country's territorial integrity, public safety and morals. Morality is where the attacks against the teacher were based, but I am not sure if a European Tribunal would agree that a potentially blasphemous painting is a serious threat to our moral principles.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cope View Post
    The First Amendment doesn't give teachers carte blanche in the classroom nor does it prevent govt. entitles from setting curricula (which may mandate the use of particular resources). Characterizing the removal of a textbook as an "attempt at brutal censorship" is histrionic, esp. given the content of the offending page.
    No reason to misquote me. I said ''brutal attempt at censorship", which makes it clear that I was referring to the methods of the ministry and not the content of the censored page. I can't think of any other recent example of the government ordering its teachers to vandalise their own schoolbooks. By the modern standards, such a demand looks primitive and resembles more the practices of authoritarian regimes than a EU republic. That's probably what the government also realised, which is why they retracted their initial instruction and ordered instead the withdrawal of the book.
    Quote Originally Posted by alhoon View Post
    Kemal is not an uncontroversial choice. This is like putting a glowing reference about Putin in an English textbook, stating how he selflessly worked to get Russia out of the Yeltsin Mire and brought it to the 21st century, improved the economic situation and thus, making it a respected regional power again that didn't just had to rely on its aging nuclear arsenal to be heard.
    By uncontroversial I mean that they enjoy huge rates of approval in their country of origin. Editors rarely think of more international considerations or of the fact that no major historical figure is actually universally acclaimed even in their native country. Kemal is a classical example, because he is a pillar of the Turkish state's national narrative, but he's criticised by the left and is viewed much more negatively in Greece. The example of Pedro was not random. He might be officially considered as the founder of Brazil, but assuming that he's a totally uncontroversial figure would be flawless. To give another example, mentioning the exploits of Alexander as a Greek, as a Macedonian or as anything else would upset the nationalists of North Macedonia, Greece and American-Iranian communities respectively.
    Last edited by Abdülmecid I; September 09, 2021 at 04:16 AM.

  16. #16
    Ältester der Motten's Avatar Primicerius
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    Default Re: Cyprus: Teachers asked to tear out controversial page from schoolbooks.

    I don't have an emotional stake in either country. But this snippet is obviously biased propaganda and distortion of truth, and so has no place in public education or anywhere. Tearing out the page is a rather primitive way of dealing with it, I suppose the head honcho was in a fit of rage when he ordered it and his underlings just shrugged and forwarded the order.
    Quote Originally Posted by Abdülmecid I View Post
    By uncontroversial I mean that they enjoy huge rates of approval in their country of origin.
    By that standard Mao and Kim Jong-Il are uncontroversial. I don't think Kemal Atatürk has high approval rates anywhere BUT Turkey, because only Turkey stylised him to be the great father of the nation and well of all that is good and right in Turkey, whereas nobody else gives even half a rat's ass about him. Outside of Turkey and her neighbours he's barely a footnote. If an editor in a neighbouring country makes sure to highlight his "flawless" character, I think it's safe to assume the editor is emotionally biased and follows an unprofessional ideological agenda. I'm sure if we followed the trail, we'd find out that he's a Turkish nationalist. if Corona left me with any savings, I would bet money on that.

    This is not an attempt to accurately get the point across about how Turks feel about him. This is advertising him directly to Cypriot school children.
    Last edited by Ältester der Motten; September 09, 2021 at 04:30 AM. Reason: Unaccurately quoted

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    Default Re: Cyprus: Teachers asked to tear out controversial page from schoolbooks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Abdülmecid I View Post
    No reason to misquote me. I said ''brutal attempt at censorship", which makes it clear that I was referring to the methods of the ministry and not the content of the censored page. I can't think of any other recent example of the government ordering its teachers to vandalise their own schoolbooks. By the modern standards, such a demand looks primitive and resembles more the practices of authoritarian regimes than a EU republic. That's probably what the government also realised, which is why they retracted their initial instruction and ordered instead the withdrawal of the book.
    Apologies for the misquote. Portraying the removal of an ostensibly jingoistic description of an historical figure from the classroom as a "brutal attempt at censorship" is histrionic. The "methods of the ministry" were at worst ham-fisted/indiscreet not "brutal". The language being used would better characterize the Hebdo and Paty murders than the removal of a controversial textbook page.



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    Sir Adrian's Avatar the Imperishable
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    Default Re: Cyprus: Teachers asked to tear out controversial page from schoolbooks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Abdülmecid I View Post
    By uncontroversial I mean that they enjoy huge rates of approval in their country of origin.
    Glad to heat Stalin, Ceausescu, Antonescu, Mao, Khomeini, Pablo Escobar, Papa Doc, and others are not controversial.
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    alhoon's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Cyprus: Teachers asked to tear out controversial page from schoolbooks.

    @Abdulmecid:
    Hoping I don't stray off topic... what are the criticisms about Pedro I? Sure, you can't make omelet without breaking eggs but... IIRC he was an honestly pro-constitution and pro-Brazil guy despite being from Portugal. I am convinced that he believed what he preached and I haven't heard of any mass purges by him. I may remember wrong, but when presented with an ultimatum, he abdicated without a fight. Compared to some modern leaders that refused to accept they lost elections, I see him as quite the visionary and reform-minded person that was not attached to power.
    alhoon is not a member of the infamous Hoons: a (fictional) nazi-sympathizer KKK clan. Of course, no Hoon would openly admit affiliation to the uninitiated.
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  20. #20

    Default Re: Cyprus: Teachers asked to tear out controversial page from schoolbooks.

    Amazing to see hidden anti-Turkish sentiment at play in the forum. People get mad over a Turk not being portrayed bad enough for their taste. So much that Atatürk, who was serving in Gallipoli in the western front against the British and the French, is made to be responsible for a genocide claimed to be executed in the eastern provinces... This is censorship and it's wrong. Just because you don't like its content doesn't change that.
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