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Turkey: Erdogan sacks disputed university president

Turkey: Erdogan sacks disputed university president

Istanbul | Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday dismissed the president of the prestigious Istanbul University, whose appointment earlier this year sparked protests on campus.

The dismissal of Melih Bulu, who was appointed by Mr Erdogan on January 1 to lead Bogazici University, was announced by a presidential decree issued overnight from Wednesday to Thursday. His successor is not yet known.

The move is an unusual step backwards for the head of state, who usually does not pay much attention to critics and has personally chosen Polo, a close friend of his political party.

This dismissal comes after several months of mobilization on the part of teachers and students in Bogazici who denounced the appointment of the authority of this rector whom they considered, moreover, insufficiently qualified.

In the weeks following Mr. Polo’s arrival at the head of the prestigious institution, hundreds of students and professors demonstrated almost daily in and around the campus to demand his departure.

The authorities arrested dozens of protesters, whom Erdogan described as “terrorists.” In a powerful symbolic gesture, the police even handcuffed the university entrance gate to prevent students from entering.

In the face of repression, particularly against LGBT students in the establishment, large-scale demonstrations in recent months have backed away from campus vigils and strong mobilization on social networks.

Located in the European side of Istanbul, Boğaziçi University is one of the most prestigious universities in Turkey. Many of the country’s elite attended its stands.

While the president of Bogazici University was previously selected in internal elections, he has been directly appointed by Mr. Erdogan since 2016, a move that academics denounced as an attack on the universities’ independence.

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