The Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs is under heavy criticism after they published a comic glorifying Islamic martyrdom to children.
A cartoon published in the April issue of the ministry’s Child Magazine, shows a dialogue between a child and his parents, reports Turkish paper Cumhuriyet. The father asks his son, “Do you want to be a martyr?” to which the son replies, “of course I want to be a martyr. Who doesn’t want to go to heaven?”
The child says “heaven is happy with martyrs” and that once they reach heaven they are showered with so much praise that they all wish they could have been martyred ten times over. Even more chillingly the child says in the last panel:
“I wish I could be killed as a martyr.”
The theme of the April issue of the children’s magazine is meant to facilitate dialogue between parents and their children. Psychologist Professor Dr. Serdar Degirmencioglu reacted harshly to the magazine. He told the press that the concept is nothing new, saying that “hundreds of people have the same mentality of spreading the idea of a religious death to children.”
Degirmencioglu has been critical of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, saying for a long time that the government has been trying to get children into the ideas of radical Islam from a very young age. He told Turkish newspaper Evensel: “Religiosity has, in recent years, turned into a literal political tool. They do not even hide it. The Ministry of Religion was provided more money than several other ministries combined and continues intensive work for religious children.”
“They want to use the drawings to transfer the message of martyrdom to children because they think it will be more attractive. ‘Martyrs suffer,’ ‘sins forgiven’ it says. So it’s a painless death and a promise of heaven,” he said.
The professor was quick to point out that the mentality of those who wrote the comic is not very different from the Islamic State (IS) attackers in Paris, Brussels and Ankara, explaining:
“Turkey is overwhelmed with the pain of these massacres and with those pursuing the mentality of religiosity. All this has led to the death of people, an exact same mentality, that blinds people to the horrors of what the Religious Affairs Ministry is trying to spread to children in Turkey. The Children will grow up and they will run toward death when those in power tell them to.”
The cartoon echoes moves the Islamic State makes to brainwash children into their radical beliefs. Breitbart reported in January that in the Iraqi city of Nineveh IS had banned teaching subjects like science, and replaced the entire syllabus with teachings on the Koran and Sharia.