Turkish schoolgirls hauled off stage in tears for inappropriate attire

A group of schoolgirls aged around 10-years-old were hauled off stage in tears in southern Turkey in the middle of a Children’s Day performance after an Education Ministry official said they were wearing inappropriate attire, the secular Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.

Parents said the official was perturbed by the girls’ midriffs being exposed.

“Their outfits were not appropriate for their age. Their clothing was not suitable for an educational environment,” Akdeniz Ministry of Education Chairman Adem Şimşek said in a statement.

The schoolgirls from Kazanlı School in the town of Akdeniz in Mersin province left the stage crying after their performance, which they had been rehearsing for a month, was stopped midway and they were pulled off stage, Cumhuriyet said.

‘’My son is in a different class. While watching the performance in the schoolyard, I realised that another performance was suddenly cut,” the newspaper quoted one parent as saying. “Then an announcement was made. Some parents reacted saying, ‘you can’t see our children as sexual objects, what kind of an understanding is this? These are children.’'

“There was nothing abnormal about the clothing of the children. From what I heard, school officials were bothered by the exposure of the girls’ abdomens and asked that the performance be ended,” the parent said.

“This is a very clear and striking example of the level of the regressive siege on the educational system,” local teachers’ union chairman Sinan Muşlu said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s has been a vocal advocate of raising what he has called a “pious generation” with millions of dollars of extra funds set aside for religious education and special religious schools. Critics accuse the Ministry of Education of doing away with secular principles in schools.