“A NEW Turkey” was the promise of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who became its first elected president on August 10th. No sooner was he sworn in than Mr Erdogan said he would move out of Ataturk’s palace, in Ankara’s secular Cankaya district, into a new state-of-the-art complex on the edge of the city. Never mind that an Ankara court ruled in February that the site was environmentally protected. “If they [the court] have the power to demolish it [the new office], let them, I shall sit in it,” Mr Erdogan said.
Turkey’s secularists see this as more evidence that Mr Erdogan wants to replace Ataturk’s republic with Islamist rule. They cite changes in education. The number of imam hatip (Sunni Islamic clerical training) schools has doubled in five years, and pupils who fail the new exam to get into their first choice have been pushed into imam hatip schools instead. “The past three years have seen a marked shift towards greater Islamic influence over education,” says Batuhan Aydagul, an education analyst.