Turkish public school teacher, students throw nationalist hand sign in class

A public school teacher in Turkey’s Aegean Manisa province posed with students throwing the nationalist hand sign and displaying the “Grey Wolves” flag in the classroom. Mayor Çetin Akın announced that they would file a criminal complaint against the teacher for propagandizing in a school.

Duvar English

A photo depicting a public school teacher with students throwing the Turkish nationalist hand sign and opening the “Grey Wolves” flag in a school in Turkey’s Aegean Manisa province circulated on social media and drew public criticism. 

The mayor of the province's Turgutlu district Çetin Akın from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) on Jan. 15 announced that they would file a criminal complaint against the teacher for making propaganda in a public education institution. 

Akın added that the public employee was yet another example of the “political agenda” seeping into schools and that the photograph revealed the extent of the problem in the most established public schools in the district.  

The mayor shares the photo in his Facebook account.

The hand sign thrown by the teacher and students is the “Grey Wolf” gesture, often associated with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The sign is formed by putting the thumb, middle, and ring fingers together above the palm and raising the index finger and the pinky in the air to imitate a wolf's ears. The wolf is a common symbol adopted by Turkish nationalists. 

The “Grey Wolves” flag is the adaptation of the Göktürk Empire’s flag which depicts the image of a wolf. The modernized version adopted by Turkish nationalists often features the word “Turk” in old Turkic script. Many Turkish nationalists adopt symbols from old Turkic tribes and proto-states. One such example is the opposition İYİ (Good) Party, which adapted its name and logo from the seal of the Kayı Tribe. 

İYİ Party logo and the Kayı Tribe seal

According to the section of the Education Ministry regulation on "rules to be followed by students", students are expected not to "participate in harmful, separatist, subversive, political and ideological activities, and not to carry or possess emblems, banners, badges, publications and the like related to these activities."

Also, "organizing political and ideological protests, inciting others to organize such protests, and participating in organized protests in the education and training environment" is defined as a disciplinary offense.