ISTANBUL: Students hold placards reading “Rector should be elected not direct appointed” in front of  Bogazici University during a protest on Monday against the direct appointment of the new rector by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.—AFP
ISTANBUL: Students hold placards reading “Rector should be elected not direct appointed” in front of Bogazici University during a protest on Monday against the direct appointment of the new rector by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.—AFP

ISTANBUL: Hundreds of people demonstrated in Istanbul on Monday against what they claim is the politically motivated appointment of a rector at a top Turkish university by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A reporter estimated the number at more than 1,000, with dozens of police officers watching the rally without intervening.

Anger erupted after a January 1 presidential decree in which Erdogan appointed Melih Bulu — a candidate in the 2015 general election for the president’s ruling party — as the rector of Bogazici University.

The protesters outside the public university’s campus included students outraged by what they alleged to be political interference.

They chanted “We don’t want an appointed rector” and “Melih, step down” while some held placards saying, “We want rights, why so many police?” and “Melih Bulu cannot be Bogazici’s rector”.

Erdogan assumed the power to directly appoint university rectors after surviving a failed 2016 coup, and it is not the first time his choice for Bogazici has caused controversy.

When Professor Mehmed Ozkan was appointed as rector in November 2016, there were tensions and upset from students and academics.

Rectors for Turkey’s universities were appointed through elections before July 2016.

Published in Dawn, January 5th, 2021

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