Turkey has taken retaliatory action over an anti-Islam manifesto published last month by 300 French figures calling for parts of the Qur’an, the holy book of Muslims, to be removed.
Turkey’s Higher Education Board decided that Turkish universities no longer admit new students to their French language departments, media reports said on Monday.
Emrullah Isler, the chairman of the Committee on National Education, Culture, Youth, and Sport at the Turkish Parliament, told Al Jazeera that the body had taken the decision in response to the manifesto.
The other factor driving the decision, he said, was that France’s universities did not have any departments teaching “Turkology,” while there were many offering French studies in Turkey.
On Tuesday, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan strongly denounced the manifesto which demanded that “Muslim authorities … strike with obsolescence” verses in the Qur’an, because they were allegedly calling for “the murder and punishment of Jews, Christians, and non-believers.”
The statement’s signatories include former president Nicolas Sarkozy, three former premiers, and several lawmakers.
“Who are you to attack our scriptures? We know how vile you are,” Erdogan said.
“Have they ever read their books, the Bible? Or the Torah?” he asked, referring to the Christian and Jewish holy books. “If they had read them, they probably would want to ban the Bible.”
“You are no different than ISIL (Daesh),” Erdogan added.
Meanwhile, 30 Muslim clerics published a letter in the French paper Le Monde, denying that Qur’anic verses could be used to justify “violence,” quoting a famous passage which equates murder to the killing of the entire humanity.