German-Backed Turkish School Denies Christmas BanBy Emily Marks, UniversityHerald Reporter
A German-backed school in Turkey has denied allegations that it has banned Christmas and its related activities. This comes after people expressed their outrage on news that the school has prohibited Christmas festivities.
The Guardian reported that the school has denied the claims. The German foreign office has also admitted that there had been a misunderstanding and that the school was allowed to teach Christmas traditions.
Istanbul Lisesi, which was set up in 1884, is a Turkish-German bilingual state school. It is partly supported by the German government. There are 35 German teachers at the school who are being paid for by German taxpayers.
It was noted that a German news agency, Spiegel Online, published a story about how several teachers at the school revealed that they had been told not to teach German Christmas traditions in class. It was also claimed that they have been told to remove advent calendars from their classrooms.
The school denied the alleged Christmas ban. "The reports in German media about restrictions on Christmas festivities of German teachers do not reflect reality," the school said in a statement. "A concert was cancelled by the German teachers in question without explanation. There is no question of the school or its management placing an obstacle in its way or prohibiting it."
On Monday afternoon, the German foreign ministry clarified that there was no ban. "Hopefully all misunderstandings have been resolved," a spokesperson said.
A screenshot of the email had been published by Sueddeutsche Zeitung. The article is in German.
According to BBC, politicians in Germany were shocked and angered over the news. The story made headlines in German media on Monday. One news outlet even portrayed Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the Grinch, a fictional character who stole Christmas.
The school explained that festivities were allowed to take place under the supervision of the Turkish education ministry. Special events would also need the students' parental permission.