ANKARA (AA) – Arabic language serves as a bridge between peoples of the Muslim world, a senior official of the Turkish Education Ministry’s Religion Teaching Directorate said.
Nazif Yilmaz made the remarks in Ankara Tuesday during an award ceremony at an inter-school Arabic language competition organized by the Directorate.
Speaking at the ceremony, Professor Ahmet Agirakca, rector of Mardin University, said teaching Arabic could help revive the rise of Islamic Ummah, which refers to the worldwide Muslim community.
“We have [high] hopes from Imam Hatip schools, [where apart from Arabic,] science is taught,” Agirakca said.
A total of 938 Turkish religious high schools, known locally as Imam Hatip schools, 917 secondary schools, four Turkey-based international religious schools and 14 Arabic project schools participated in the competition. About 25,000 students across Turkey prepared for it.
The event, 7th International Arabic Competitions, which started Sunday, began with the recitation of Quran Tuesday and Turkey’s national anthem.
Omer Faruk Akman, a Turkish student from Istanbul-based Beyoglu Imam Hatip High School, also highlighted the importance of learning the Arabic language.
“These competitions show the importance given to Arabic language in Turkey, as Arabic is considered as key to Islamic scholarship and civilization,” Akman said.
The high school students competed in several categories, including Arabic knowledge and poetry recitals.
More than 30 prominent Turkish academics were part of the jury, which included language experts from Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Jordan and Palestine.
The Imam Hatip schools also teach students from other countries, including Sudan, Senegal and Yemen.
Mansour Diop Ndiaye, a 17-year-old Senegalese student from the International Mevlana Imam Hatip High School, came in first in one of the categories in the competition.
Ahmad Najib, a Yemeni student from the Mevlana Imam Hatip School, said: “Turkey gave me the opportunity for improve myself and I want to thank those who help me take part in this competition.”