Erdoğan aide accuses Boğaziçi University of being hotbed for 'radicalization'

President Erdoğan's Communications Director Fahrettin Altun has targeted Boğaziçi University in a video message in English, accusing it of being a hotbed for “radicalized” students. He said that students' protests in demand of a fair election to choose the new rector are not freedom of expression.

Duvar English

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Communications Director Fahrettin Altun has accused Istanbul's Boğaziçi University of being a hotbed for “radicalization” in a video titled “What's happening at Boğaziçi?”

“Unfortunately, radicalization has been a persistent problem on college campuses in Turkey. In recent years, radicalized students from the same university joined terrorist organizations like PKK/YPG,” Altun said in the video message in English.

“We must shed light on the darkness that turns some of our nations’ brightest students into terrorists,” Altun said.

Indicating that Erdoğan appointed rector Melih Bulu in line with his “constitutional mandate,” Altun said: “Let us stop pretending that this is about freedom of expression and the right of peaceful protests.”

For the past month, Boğaziçi University students have been demonstrating against the appointment of Bulu, who was given the post by Erdoğan in January. They demand that Bulu resigns and a fair election is held to choose the new rector.

More than 250 people were detained in Istanbul this week and 69 others in Ankara during protests.

The detentions and police brutality against students also received severe criticism in the international arena, with the U.S., the United Nations Human Rights Office and the European Commission expressing grave concern.

EU condemns detention of students, use of anti-LGBT 'hate speech'

Peter Stano, spokesman for EU on foreign affairs, also released a statement with regards to the incidents on Feb. 4, condemning Turkish authorities' move to use the COVID-19 pandemic as a means to silence critical voices.

“The detention of more than a hundred students exercising their legitimate right to freedom of assembly as well as the Istanbul governor’s decision to ban all kinds of meetings, demonstrations and marches in two districts covering the hinterland of the Boğaziçi university is a deeply worrying development, and goes against the authorities’ stated commitment to reforms towards EU values and standards,” the statement read.

“Hate speech displayed by high-level officials against LGBTI students during these events and the closing of an LGBTI association is unacceptable. We call on Turkey to respect its national and international obligations and to release those arbitrarily detained for exercising their right to peaceful assembly over the last weeks,” it said.