The administrators of an elite Istanbul high school have ordered teachers to stop telling students about Christian- and Christmas-related content in German language classes. This sparked another diplomatic row between Ankara and Berlin, Reuters reports.

Istanbul Lisesi is a German-funded high school founded in 1884. It is an exclusive school for Turkish students that offers a curriculum in both German and Turkish, with an emphasis on teaching the German language and values.

The International School said in a statement that the administrators were concerned that the teachers were devoting too much time teaching about Christmas and Christianity. They have met with the head of the German department to address this issue.

“When we received information that German teachers were teaching increasingly more texts on Christmas and Christianity in a manner that is outside the curriculum … our administration arranged a meeting with the German department and requested information,” the school said.

According to Deutsche Welle, the Christmas ban had prompted an uproar in Germany. High-ranking officials, lawmakers and German media criticized the incident.

The German Foreign Ministry had called the school’s decision “regrettable,” since it would affect the German-Turkish friendship at the school. “It is a great pity that the good tradition of the intercultural exchange in the pre-Christmas period was suspended at a school with a long history of German-Turkish tradition,” the Ministry said in a statement.

The school quickly denied the allegations of a Christmas ban and said the whole affair had been “a misunderstanding.” In an email, the school clarified that, “After a joint meeting between the Turkish school management and the directors of the German department, I can inform you that there is no prohibition on discussing ‘Christmas’ in classes.”

Reuters. (2016). Reuters.

Deutsche welle (wwwdwcom). (2016). DWCOM.

Wwwrtcom. (2016). RT International.

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