Turkey: Protests by students, in Istanbul, against Erdogan University choice

To protest President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s nomination of a loyalist as the head of a top university, hundreds of Turkish students ignored police notices and protested on Wednesday in Istanbul.

Indeed, more than 1,000 people fought with police on Monday to protest Erdogan’s nomination of Melih Bulu, who is a losing candidate from the ruling AKP party in the 2015 general election, as a president of a prestigious public institution. Whereas, the police responded by detaining 36 people in many raids that started in the early hours of Tuesday. Thereafter, they enclosed the university and chained its entries to prevent a planned assembly by students and their supporters on Wednesday.

Otherwise, organizers assembled and decided to organize a protest march instead that they coordinated via social media. So, hundreds protested and said slogans along the Bosphorus and then crossing to the Asian side of Istanbul for an assembly while the number was estimated by AFP reporters to more than 1,000, and the anti-riot police watched without intervening along the route.

Student Zehra Aydemir said: To walk together on such a day of defiance makes us feel very good. Besides, University graduate, Cinar Cifter, said: I am proud that my friends and I were able to meet up and fight for what we want.

Nothing else matters

There were a mixed people in the March with a lot of young that held up political posters, where some danced to the sounds of Metallica, which is an ironic reference to a TV interview by Bulu on Tuesday and he claimed that he listen to the US heavy metal group.

Moreover, one poster referred to Erdogan as “Master of Puppets, the name of a 1986 Metallica album and song, while another cited the band’s iconic refrain: nothing else matters.

On his part, Erdogan has not referred to the protests in public, however, Turkish officials are intense to avoid a repeat of the 2013 Gezi Park demonstrations that started as a defense of a small green space in the heart of Istanbul before transforming to the first serious challenges to Erdogan’s term.

Erdogan’s ruling coalition partner, Devlet Bahceli, of the ultranationalist MHP party stated that the protests need to be crushed before they grow any further.

Bahceli related on Wednesday that those who are trying to strangle Turkey by taking this rector’s nomination as an excuse are terrorists’ pawns and separatists dressed as students, he added: The protesters were trying to create a new Gezi uprising.

From the 1990s to July 2016, presidents for Turkey’s universities were selected through elections. In fact, Bogazici University has traditionally been a stronghold of leftist issues that made into a government’s target on past occasions, and many of its students were detained after a protest against Turkey’s military offensive in Syria in 2018.

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