Turkey moved to limit the scope of French studies at universities in an escalating tension over a row regarding the French call to remove certain passages from Koran.
An official from Higher Education Board (YOK) told media that Turkey will now allow 16 French departments at universities to admit new students. Those departments currently have no students.
The same official noted that 19 departments focusing on French studies and already have students would accept new students next year.
The limitation came amid a row over a call by a group of important French figures, including former President Nicholas Sarkozy and other politicians, to remove some verses they say contain “anti-semitic and violent ideas.”
The move met with harsh reaction from the Islamic world, including the Turkish government in Ankara.
“Is it your place to make such remarks? We see this only as a reflection of your ignorance. You are no different than Daesh [Islamic State],” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in his response to the call.
“No matter how much you attack what’s sacred to us, we will not do the same. We are not despicable,” Reuters quoted the Turkish president as saying.
France’s ties with Turkey recently strained over its support for Syrian Kurdish militia. French President Emmanuel Macron‘s offer to mediate the dispute between the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Turkey sparked a furious backlash from Ankara. Erdogan outright rejected the proposal. Paris tried to assuage concerns of the Turkish government after media reports about the deployment of French troops to Manbij, a city controlled by the U.S.-allied Kurdish militia and contested by Turkey.