“And it is He who created the heavens and the earth in six days.” Thus read the draft version of a proposed textbook for 10th-grade geography students in Azerbaijan in a section about how the universe was formed. As homework, the book suggested that students prepare presentations on verses from the Koran, referring them to the Azerbaijani-language website quran.az.
The textbook draft was posted online at the end of March for public comment: it quickly became a hot discussion topic as Azerbaijan wrestles to determine the proper place of religion in public life. In response to the posted draft, a group of parents, scientists, and public figures used social media to organize a campaign against what they described as a government imposition of religious propaganda on their children.
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Durna Safarova is a freelance journalist who covers Azerbaijan.