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What Is Being Taught at Islamic Schools and Mosques in the West?

Every time jihadi terrorists murder innocent people, political commentators and analysts rightfully start trying to find answers to questions such as:

  • “What made the terrorists do that?”
  • “How were they radicalized?”
  • “Where were they brainwashed?”

A look at Turkey -- whose constitution states it is a secular republic, but whose educational system functions otherwise -- may yield some eye-opening answers.

Sibyan (Arabic for “children”) schools -- centers that provide Islamic pre-school and kindergarten education -- are becoming increasingly popular in Turkey. The Turkish newspaper Evrensel recently spoke with two parents who enrolled their children in such schools, but later realized their children were negatively affected by the religious training they received.

“Drawing is a sin!”

One of the parents, Fidan, said that after her three-year-old child started at a sibyan school in Istanbul where university students worked as voluntary teachers, his behavior drastically changed:

He went there for two years and then I started observing some problems in him. He used violence against his younger brother. He actually used to love him so much and was never jealous of him. He also started wetting the bed and started calling everything we did at home a sin.

The child’s problems grew greater with time, and Fidan took him to a doctor. It then became clear that the child was affected by some very serious psychological problems.

Said the mother:

He went into depression, as he had a dilemma concerning what is a sin and what is not a sin. And he vented his spleen on his sibling the most.

For example, he wanted to draw pictures, but “drawing is a sin!” He could only draw houses and trees. [He was taught that] drawing human beings and animals offends Allah. That is why the child ran into a contradiction. [He was taught that] drawing pictures of a mother, father and siblings inside a home is a sin. He started asking questions such as “Is it also a sin for them to live inside a home?” We withdrew him from the sibyan school. He now goes to a state school and a rehabilitation center on certain days. He has been diagnosed with speech and mental deficiencies.

Sevinç, a mother of three, enrolled her five-year-old child in a sibyan school in Istanbul when she started working, and then started observing changes in her child’s behavior:

He started wetting his bed. He became introverted and damaged items at home.

The mother wanted to withdraw her child from the school, but did not do so as the teachers pushed harder to persuade her to let the child continue his education there:

They told me: “At least the child is learning about our religion, which you could never do for him.” Okay, I want him to learn our religion too, but I could not help thinking why the child has changed like that.