Erdogan warns students against 'sectarianism'

Turkish president criticizes sectarianist tendencies within Islam

Erdogan warns students against 'sectarianism'



Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned young Muslims against "three significant dangers: sectarianism, racism, and terrorism".

"Muslims, if they want to get the respect that they deserve, have to first eliminate these dangers," Erdogan said Thursday.

His remarks came at a youth gathering organized by the ONDER Imam Hatip Schools Alumni Association at Istanbul's Sinan Erdem Dome.

The Turkish president criticized sectarianist tendencies within Islam, which he said had sometimes become more important than one's overall Muslim identity.

"That trouble has been seriously wounding the Islamic world," he said. "We have a religion above all those [denominations]: Islam."

He also complained that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which he called "the greatest collective voice of the Islamic world", could rarely reach an agreement, even on basic issues.

He promised to rectify this as Turkey holds the chairmanship for the next two years.

Addressing the teenagers, Erdogan stressed: "The only hope of the Islamic world is Turkey; and you are the only hope of this country."

Erdogan also added that he and his four children were all graduates of the Imam Hatip schools, which were initially aimed at training future imams.

In recent years, the country has increased the number of such schools, which now focus on a broader curriculum with theological courses.

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