KONYA – The municipality of Konya in Turkey launched on July 2 its ‘Come to Mosque and Have Fun’ Project that encourages children between 7 and 14 years old to pray the Fajr (Dawn) prayer daily for 40 consecutive days.
The children are encouraged through prizes and granting the diligent kids a bonus mark at school for behavior and performance.
“About 61 thousand children are registered in the project. The children now fill the mosques in the dawn prayers. Bicycles will be given to the children who will attend the Fajr prayer for 40 days in July and August,” the Mayor of Konya Metropolitan Municipality, Uğur İbrahim Altay, told Konya.bel while joining the children to the mosque in dawn.
“Our children, together with their parents, will fill the mosques in the Fajr prayer. It’s important to accustom our kids to the teaching of Islam,” the Mayor explained.
The project is launched in all the 31 districts of Konya Metropolitan Municipality. It’s the largest province in Turkey by area where about two million people live according to the Turkish national census of 2011.
Islam in Turkey
Officially, Turkey is a secular country with no official religion since the constitutional amendment in 1924 and later strengthened by Atatürk’s Reforms and the adoption of laïcité by the country’s founder and first president Mustafa Kemal Atatürk at the end of 1937.
However, the AKP government ordered all public schools from primary up to high school to hold mandatory religion classes. In these classes, children learn prayers and Islamic rituals.
According to Ipsos survey in 2016, Islam was the major religion in Turkey representing 82% of the total population.
It’s followed by irreligious, unaffiliated, agnostic, atheist people who comprised between 9.4% and 13% of the population. Christianity, Judaism, Tengrism, and Yazidism make up 5%.
Recent polls showed that roughly 90% of the irreligious, deist and atheist Turkish citizens are younger than 35 years old.
Islam arrived in Turkey through its eastern provinces as early as the 7th century. Thousands of historical and new mosques are found throughout the country.