Turkey’s Family Ministry pays $1.88M to support child Quran courses despite ongoing lawsuit

Turkey’s Family and Social Services Ministry paid 61,804,500 liras (1.88 million dollars) to the Religious Affairs Directorate in the first four months of 2024 to cover the Quran course registration fees of financially disadvantaged children aged 4-6, despite an ongoing lawsuit against the protocol for violating secularism.

Duvar English

Turkey's Family and Social Services Ministry paid over 60 million Turkish liras to the Religious Affairs Directorate in the first four months of 2024, reported the daily BirGün on June 24

On January 27, the Family and Social Services Ministry and the Presidency of Religious Affairs signed the “Support Program Protocol for 4-6 Age Quran Courses.” The protocol was signed under the “Social Assistance and Solidarity Encouragement Law”. It stipulated that if “economically disadvantaged families” enrolled their children in 4-6 age Quran courses, the registration fee would be covered by the ministry's budget.

The Children and Women First Foundation took the protocol to court on the grounds of “unconstitutionality” arguing a ministry funding religious activity violated secularism. 

“All administrative actions and activities of the Ministry of Family and Social Services are state matters, and according to the Constitution, religious sentiments cannot be involved in state affairs. The state is defined as a democratic, secular, and social state governed by the rule of law. Therefore, the administrative action in question violates the fundamental and unchangeable provisions of the Constitution,” held the foundation. 

Despite all objections and the ongoing legal process, the Religious Affairs Presidency and the Family and Social Services Ministry continued to implement the protocol. In 2023, the Ministry paid 50,789,850 Turkish liras (1.54 million dollars) in support to students attending the 4-6 age Quran courses run by the Religious Affairs Presidency.

Support payments from the ministry budget increased in 2024. In the first quarter of 2024 alone, the support payments reached 61,804,500 liras (1.88 million dollars), exceeding the yearly spending of 2023. 

From January to April 2024, 173,965 children attending the 4-6 age Quran courses benefited from the Ministry’s support payments.

The number of children aged four to six enrolled in the Quran courses run by the Religious Affairs Directorate increases significantly each year. In 2017, the number of students was 87,790, rising to 208,936 in 2023.

Director Ali Erbaş said that they have opened over 211,000 Quran courses for the age group in all provinces of Turkey, and over 1.5 million children were taught basic religion and spiritual values in these courses.