No. 1057.
Mr. Straus to Mr. Bayard.

No. 47.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit a copy (in translation) of proposed additional regulations concerning public instruction, which have been formulated by the Porte. They were about being submitted to the council of ministers to be enacted into a law, when I incidentally, on the 14th instant, learned of their existence, and I requested the Grand Vizier to submit them to me, so I might examine them. This was done. Upon my reading them I was very much surprised to learn that they were calculated to place insuperable obstacles in the way of every foreign school in this Empire.

I at once communicated the fact to my colleagues, Count de Montebello, the French embassador; Baron Blanc, the Italian embassador; and to the Right Hon. Sir William A. White, the British embassador, who I knew were likewise with myself interested in the subject. The same day I submitted these proposed additional regulations to the Rev. Dr. Isaac Bliss and Rev. Henry O. Dwight, the representative of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in Western Turkey; they all took the same view as I did of these regulations.

The following morning I again called on the Grand Vizier and pointed out my objections in detail, informing his highness that I looked upon them as seriously and materially Infringing upon the rights of American citizens in Turkey. He appeared to be impressed with the force and validity of these objections. I feel considerable confidence that these proposed regulations will not be enacted into a law; and this belief is shared by my colleagues, the embassadors above named, who, on the following day, protested in no less emphatic terms on behalf of their respective subjects, who likewise have mission and other schools.

The Grand Vizier, as well as the minister of foreign affairs, having since caused the proposed regulations to be transmitted to the embassadors named, requested them and me to forward to the Porte written observations. After consultation with the Rev. Dr. Bliss and Rev. Mr. Dwight, I prepared the inclosed memoranda of objections, which I transmitted on December 24 to the minister of foreign affairs. My colleagues are disposed to give me the credit for having thus far prevented the passage of these objectionable laws, which would have occasioned no little trouble to the foreign schools in this Empire. It is but just to them to say that their opposition has been no less earnest and effective than mine, and whatever credit the final result may warrant belongs equally to them.

I have, etc.,

O. S. Straus.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 47.—Translation.]

Provisions additional to the regulations concerning public instruction.

Foreign subjects can not open private schools in the Empire except by submitting to the present regulations, and after having obtained an imperial firman, promulgated in pursuance of an iradeh of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan. To this end a petition must be presented to the ministry of public instruction at Constantinople and to the governors-general in the provinces, indicating whether the edifice of the school to be established is to be newly erected, or whether a building already existing will be transformed into a permanent or temporary school, and where the site of the school will be. This request will specify as well what will be the scholastic [Page 1551] grade of the school in relation to those mentioned in the regulations concerning public instruction, and whether tie school will be a boarding school or a day school, and will specify the uniform of the pupils if they are to wear one.

It will be accompanied, besides the certificates of profession (états de service), by information relative to the internal organization of the school. A copy of the text-books and the programme of studies will be also presented in order to be approved. The ministry of public instruction or the provincial authorities will have to make inquiry whether the founders of the school, the administrative body, and the corps of instructors have been accused or condemned in their own country for acts contrary to the public order, or if they enjoy a good reputation.

Legalized copies of the certificates with which the professors are provided will be delivered to the ministry of public instruction or to the governor-general of the vilayet. The founders of the school will bind themselves by a document duly legalized by the consulate to which they belong not to raise any obstacle either to the right of inspection of the ministry of public instruction and of the governor-general or to the fulfillment of the legal duties resulting from the exercise of this right.

It is forbidden to admit to these schools pupils who are Ottoman subjects who, not having followed in their own schools the course of religious instruction, have not learned the dogmas of their own creed.

Mussulman pupils will not be present at the religious services celebrated in the chapel of the school, and no obstacle will be interposed to their performance of their religious duties. Instruction in the Turkish language, as well as in Ottoman history in the Turkish language, is obligatory in foreign schools.

There will be entire abstinence from religious instruction and from that which is contrary to the interests of the country and of the state and to the public morals.

No foreign subject can open a school before having obtained an imperial firman issued in pursuance of an imperial iradeh in conformity with the provisions above set forth.

If in schools opened in virtue of an official authorization there is not conformity to the present provisions; if there is in them instruction out of books other than those indicated in the programme approved by the ministry of public instruction or the governor-general, or if the founders, directors, or professors make verbally to the pupils suggestions adverse to the state or the country, or of a nature to favor the interests of a foreign power, the ministry of public instruction or the governor-general will require the administration of the school to conform to the regulations.

In case of repetition of the offense the school will be permanently closed.

All those who have given themselves to a reprehensible teaching or suggestion will in any case be sent from the school, and will be subject to the penalties provided by law. Ottoman subjects who may wish to open a private school will be equally required, besides fulfilling the conditions required by article 129 of the regulations concerning public instruction relative to the obtaining of a permit, to make known by a special declaration to the ministry at Constantinople or to the directors of public instruction in the provinces the site on which the school will be established, whether the school will be a boarding or day school, what will be the uniform of the pupils if they are to wear one, and what will be the scholastic grade of the school in relation to those already established: if foreign professors are to teach fn the school, the founders will have to obtain the authorization of the above-mentioned ministry at Constantinople or of the governors-general in the provinces, presenting them with the professional certificates of these professors. Foreign subjects who shall teach in these schools will be subjected to an inquiry in the same manner as the professors of foreign schools.

The number of pupils who now attend private schools opened by virtue of an official authorization in conformity to the regulation concerning public instruction will be enrolled at Constantinople by the ministry and in the provinces by the directors of public instruction, and no obstacle will be interposed to their attendance at these schools until the completion of their studies.

Private schools already opened by foreign subjects without the official authorization demanded by the regulations concerning public instruction will be closed if in the space of six months they do not obtain an imperial firman by fulfilling the conditions fixed in the present provisions.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 47.]

Memoranda as to the proposed additional regulations concerning public instruction submitted by the minister of the United States to the imperial ministry of foreign affairs.

It has been a source of just pride on the part of the Imperial Government of Turkey that it was among the first of the nations of the Old World to guaranty religious [Page 1552] liberty to the many different nationalities dwelling within the Empire, and this much-commended act has won the esteem of all enlightened people and the praises of the great powers of the world.

His Imperial Majesty the Sultan, in his constant solicitude for the welfare of his subjects and for the purpose of recording “his generous intentions towards the Christian population of his Empire,” proclaimed in 1856 a full and complete charter of religious liberty, the Hatti-Humayoun, which, having been confirmed by the treaty of Paris of the same year, and its principles enlarged by the treaty of Berlin of 1878, stands to-day as a most solemn guaranty of rights and privileges for all sects and classes, secured by international compact.

It is not believed that the ministers of his imperial majesty would at this day deliberately and purposely contravene these solemn obligations and subvert institutions that rest upon prescriptions consecrated by ancient usages which have the force of law and upon treaty rights. That these proposed regulations would have such effect will be briefly pointed out, reference being made only to the more important provisions.

First. These regulations provide that no foreigner can open a private school without first obtaining an imperial firman.

A.—This provision from a practical stand-point is equivalent to prohibition, owing to the difficulties and delays which surround the effort to gain attention of his imperial majesty to such comparatively minor matters by reason, among others, of the large number of more important affairs which necessarily fall to the consideration of the chief ruler of so great an Empire.

B.—The provision is opposed to long established usages and to privileges that have been enjoyed and exercised by foreigners for many years, namely, the right to open and carry on schools at will, subject only to certain limitations which are specified in the Hatti-Humayoun, which provides: “Only the mode of instruction and the choice of teachers in this kind of schools shall be placed under the inspection and control of a mixed council of public instruction.” In this connection I quote from “Considérations sur l’exécution du Firmau Impérial du 8 Fevrier, 1856,” by His Excellency Fuad Pasha, late minister of foreign affairs, addressed to the representatives of the Sublime Porte at London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, St. Petersburg, and Florence.

“A l’égard des écoles créées et dirigées par les communautés, la liberté la plus absolue leur est laissée par le Gouvernement Impérial, qui n’intervient jamais que pour empêcher, le cas échéant, que la direction de ces écoles ne soit confiée à des personnes dont lesprincipes seraient notoirement hostiles à l’autorité du Gouvernement Impérial oil contraires à l’ordre public.”

Second. By the proposed regulations the right of foreigners to carry on schools in Turkey is made to depend on the condition that they bind themselves to submit to the right of inspection by certain Turkish officials and to “the legal duties resulting from the exercise of this right.” The requirement is so vague and indefinite that it is subject to become the means to endless oppression, and to open the door for attacks upon the sacred rights of domicile, which, by this provision, a foreign teacher is required to surrender. That right is confirmed by international compact (the law and protocol concerning real estate), and it can not be lost by the waiver of an individual or its surrender imposed upon him as a condition to exercise a legitimate function.

Third. The proposed regulations also prohibit religious instruction in the schools of foreigners.

A.—This is distinctly opposed to well-established usage, to religious liberty as set forth in the Hatti-Humayoun, and to article 62 of the treaty of Berlin.

Upon this subject I quote from the protest made on behalf of the American Board of Missionaries for Western Turkey by one of its most distinguished and learned representatives, as fairly presenting the method and the principles upon which their schools are conducted:

“This provision is an unnecessary and oppressive restriction, whose inconsistency is at once seen on considering the fact that in all Christian schools in Turkey and in the whole Moslem system of education religious instruction is made the basis of scientific education. We do not believe in making instruction in the doctrines of our theology a part of the course of a scientific school, and we carefully refrain from whatever might wound the just religious susceptibilities of the pupils. But we believe with the wise man of old that’ the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,’ and that love to the Creator is the foundation of all morality. Therefore we can not exclude elementary religious instruction from the schools which we conduct.”

B.—The foregoing, taken in connection with the fact that no power exists to compel any one to attend these schools, and that such parents, be they Mussulman or Christian, who send their children to them, do so of their own free will, are the clearest proofs that such prohibition unjustly interferes with the proper functions of the schools, and instead of being in furtherance of religious liberty is in direct opposition thereto.

Fourth. The provision that all existing foreign schools will be closed if within, six [Page 1553] months they have not obtained an Imperial firman authorizing their existence is opposed.

A.—To Hatti Humayoun Article XV, which says:

“Moreover each community is authorized to carry on schools of sciences, arts, and industry.”

B.—That authority can not be now abridged by making such schools depend upon an Imperial firman. The delay in granting the same for whatever cause, for a longer period than six months, would work the abolition of every foreign school in the Empire.

While it is not charged that such is the object of the provision, yet that it is capable of such a construction is a sufficent objection to its conditions.

While thus protesting against these proposed regulations in their entirety, the minister of the United States will deem it his duty to meet the just wishes of the Imperial Government in regard to the supervision of the methods of instruction and of the teachers employed.