Turkish parent launches campaign against racism in Italy

Turkish parent launches campaign against racism in Italy

Swiss protesters surround a symbolic minaret to protest against the minaret ban in Geneva. (Photo: AP)

January 15, 2012, Sunday/ 16:18:00

A Turkish parent residing in Italy has launched a campaign following an incident where a schoolteacher in Rome made his students write down a paragraph denigrating Turkish women, according to a report published on the front page of the Sabah daily on Sunday.

Yasemin Taşkın, who works as a Rome-based reporter for Turkey's Sabah daily, launched an anti-racism campaign after her daughter was forced to write a passage claiming that Turkish people believe women only exist to get married and have babies.

There were other sentiments insulting to Turks, such as that “most adults from Turkey cannot read or write,” and “Ayşe's father, who works in a train station, says Turkish men do not do housework.”

Taşkın's daughter, Selin Ansaldo, who studies at the Swiss School in Rome, was shocked on Sept. 18, 2011, when, in German class, her teacher made the students write down the following sentences: “Most Turkish women exist to get married and give birth. It is unnecessary to educate them.”

The text, written in German, was dictated by Roger Schumacher, a German teacher of Swiss origin, to secondary school students in the third grade (the equivalent of the US seventh grade). Taşkın found out that the paragraph was taken from a textbook approved by Swiss education authorities. She and her daughter have launched a petition for the removal of racist remarks directed at Turks from the Swiss curriculum.

Taşkın also shared the paragraph with other parents. Many Italian and Swiss parents have also found the text offensive on the grounds it imposes racist and xenophobic ideas and sent a letter of protest to the school's management condemning racism.

Edwin Züger, the principal, said the teacher did not dictate the text intending harm and admitted that the paragraph the students had to write down was from a textbook used in the Swiss curriculum. He also defended the book for doing a good job of analyzing themes such as integration and migration.

The Turkish Embassy in Rome expressed strong condemnation of the text in a diplomatic note sent to the Embassy of Switzerland. The note was also sent to Switzerland's Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and to the Turkish Embassy in Bern.

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