Turkish Students Demand Jedi, Buddhist Temples Alongside Campus Mosques
Extravagant new mosques at Turkish public universities have inspired online petitions in which students demand accommodation for any Jedi knights and Buddhists on campus.
After Istanbul Technical University’s rector announced a forthcoming “landmark mosque” at the school, nearly 20,000 individuals have signed an online petition requesting a Buddhist temple at ITU. The mosque, which will be the university’s first, was approved after more than 185,000 individuals signed a petition of their own.
There is not a statistically significant number of Buddhists in Turkey. Nevertheless, one petitioner on the site wrote, “I can’t fulfill my religious needs because the closest Buddhist temple is 2,000 kilometers away, and I can’t go there during lunch break,” as translated by Hürriyet Daily News.
Hürriyet interviewed the founder of the petition, civil engineering student Zeynep Özkatip, the proposal is not just hypothetical: “We have already received enough donation promises to complete the construction.”
Not to be outdone, students at Dokuz Eylül University in the western city of Izmir have launched a petition of their own, for the university to give them a facility “to recruit new Jedi and to bring balance to the Force.” (RELATED: Star Wars’ Tatooine Is Now An ISIS Hub)
The petition may be patterned after a phenomenon that began in Australia and the U.K. in the early 2000s, where respondents to national censuses protested the inclusion of a religion question by self-identifying as the Star Wars films’ “Jedi.” As of the most recent U.K. census, there are far more self-identified Jedi in the country than pagans, Scientologists, believers in “heavy metal,” Jains (followers of a radically nonviolent Indian religion) or agnostics.
The student petitions come amid accusations that some universities prioritize religious facilities over other issues, including scientific research facilities.
Over 98 percent of Turkish citizens are at least nominally Muslim, but its constitution is staunchly secular. In recent decades, Turkish politicians have clashed over Islam’s role in public life. Public universities banned women from wearing Islamic headscarves until 2008, in a reversal spearheaded by the Islamist-leaning AKP party which is still in power today. (RELATED: Turkey’s President Takes Credit For Obamacare)
Under the AKP, changes have also affected blasphemy prosecutions, alcohol advertisements and religious content in schoolbooks.
But Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, a key AKP official, promised in November that he would defend “even Buddhism” if it was slandered by official school materials.
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