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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey promised on Monday to introduce compulsory classes in Ottoman Turkish into the national school curriculum, regardless of public objections.

Ottoman Turkish is an older form of the national language, written in a type of Arabic script, with many words and phrases borrowed from Arabic or Persian. Its official use was discontinued in 1928 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, in favor of a more vernacular form of Turkish, written with the Latin alphabet.

Turkey’s desire to return to Ottoman era

“There are those who do not want this to be taught,” Mr. Erdogan told the Religion Council in Ankara on Monday. “This is a great danger. Whether they like it or not, the Ottoman language will be learned and taught in this country.”

Some people see Mr. Erdogan’s move as reflecting a broader goal of restoring an Ottoman-like state. His remarks have added fuel to a debate set off last week by the National Education Council, which proposed that Ottoman language classes become mandatory at religious high schools and be offered as optional electives in secular high schools. The council also called for classes in “religious values” to be taught to children as young as 6.

The recommendations have drawn widespread criticism from parents and political opponents, who argue that the council — and the Islamist-led government of Mr. Erdogan — is trying to “Islamize” the public schools and roll back Ataturk’s secularization and modernization of Turkey.

“The education system is in shambles, but instead of introducing real reforms, the government is pushing through irrelevant backward subjects that do nothing more than brainwash children with their ideologies,” said Ayse Karvan, a mother of two students at the Behcet Kemal Caglar High School.

“Why Ottoman?” she asked.

“The Turkish language doesn’t even have significant Ottoman roots,” Ms. Karvan said, calling it “irrelevant.”

Mr. Erdogan argued that knowledge of the older language would help Turks reconnect with their past and read old documents and gravestones. “History rests in those gravestones,” he said. “Can there be a bigger weakness than not knowing this?” He called Ataturk’s switch to vernacular Turkish and the Latin alphabet “equal to the severing of our jugular veins.”

Mr. Erdogan’s exercise of power has stirred criticism of his government’s measures to quash opposition and rein in the judiciary and the media, and of his new presidential palace, with more than 1,000 rooms.

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