Education Minister Ömer Dinçer has announced that the Ministry of Education is working on a new circular regarding the celebration of May 19, Atatürk Commemoration and Youth and Sports Day, after a recent ruling by the Council of State which placed a stay of execution on a prime ministerial decree that forbade the celebration of May 19 ceremonies in stadiums.
Speaking at a traditional evening gathering organized by the Ağrı Culture and Solidarity Association on Sunday, Dinçer said a new paradigm should be developed for the national day ceremonies and that they are working on a new comprehensive regulation.
The Ministry of Education decided earlier this year to cancel the May 19 celebrations, which mark the anniversary of the beginning of the War of Independence, claiming that students were being negatively affected by the ceremonies.
After practicing for days, high school students parade in military formations around stadiums across Turkey and perform drills to celebrate May 19.
“The inspiration for the celebrations that take place in stadiums are the dictatorial regimes of the 1940s in countries such as Italy and Germany. They gave up practicing these militaristic rituals in the 1960s and 1970s, but we are still practicing rituals we took from these countries,” Dinçer said, adding that the way Turkey marks its national holidays should be civilianized.
Dinçer said they will introduce new regulations for all national day celebrations, including April 23, Aug. 30 and Oct. 29, to generate a more peaceful atmosphere during the celebrations. With the new regulations local authorities, citizens, students and parents will be free to celebrate the national holidays as they like, free from any imposition by the state, he further stated.
Dinçer criticized the recent ruling of the Council of State concerning May 19, calling it “a legal abomination.” His remarks drew harsh criticism from opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who said, “It seems his [Dinçer's] notion of legal culture is not very developed.”
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also criticized the ruling on Sunday, saying Turkey's regime did not need anyone's protection and accused opponents of the stadium ban of exploiting May 19.
“Turkey does not belong to a certain segment. It belongs to all 75 million citizens. … Unlike them, we are protecting the true meaning of May 19; we are not trying to exploit it,” Erdoğan stated.