(File photo) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Photograph:( Reuters )
Turkish youth has been protesting against their president. Hundreds of university student have been protesting in Istanbul for three days. This a rare sight in a country that has a history of crushing anti-govt demonstration within hours
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan led backlash against French President Macron for cracking down on Extremism but now protests of a different kind have come knocking at his door.
Turkish youth has been protesting against their president. Hundreds of university student have been protesting in Istanbul for three days. This a rare sight in a country that has a history of crushing anti-govt demonstration within hours.
But these protests have continued for over 72 hours. The Turkish police tried to crack down but it only made the situation worse. The students with the support of their professors have refused to cede ground.
They say they will fight until the end.
"I am proud that my friends and I were able to meet up in such numbers and fight for what we want in such a context, I was also very happy to see the support of our professors yesterday. I’m also glad I can participate in this gathering in Kadikoy. I believe we will fight until the end." said Cinar Cifter, a recent graduate of Bogazici University.
These students are demonstrating against the appointment of an Erdogan loyalist as the rector of their university.
The Bogazici University in Istanbul is the most prestigious university in Turkey with a long-standing reputation for tolerance and intellectual independence.
The university was established as Robert College in 1863. To this day it follows the American higher education system. Erdogan sees this university as a threat. And that's why he wants to Turkicise it.
He appointed Melih Bulu as the university's new rector. He is a longtime Erdogan loyalist. He even contested elections on party ticket.
Erdogan issued a presidential decree on January 1 and appointed Bulu as the new rector. He is the first to be chosen from outside the university's community since the 1980 military coup.
The decision has been met with outrage. Students and faculty members at the university say that the appointment was made to curtail academic freedom. They say the university's liberal atmosphere and open-mindedness will be destroyed by this appointment.
"As you know, for a long time now, the AKP has increasingly consolidated its hold on the universities. The easiest way to do this is by appointing rectors. This has happened in many universities across our country, today is Bogazici university’s turn, but the students of Bogazici have come out to speak against this today," said Cihan Cicek, a student from Istanbul University.
So the protests continue.
Turkish police on Monday tried to clear protesters. They clashed with them and arrested dozens. But they failed to put an end to protests. It's been 3 days and the numbers are swelling. Students from other universities in Istanbul are converging to the protest site.
It's an awakening of sorts driven by the youth of Turkey. The result of almost a year of Erdogan trying to suppress threats and perceived threats. Now he has tried to target academic institutions. And he is feeling the heat.