Istanbul high school graduates protest principal's defense of child abuse during graduation ceremony

Students graduating from Istanbul’s prestigious Cağaloğlu Anatolian High School on June 2 protested against the school principal who defended child abuse in the past by turning their backs during his speech in the graduation ceremony.

Duvar English

Istanbul's Cağaloğlu Anatolian High School graduates on June 2 protested against school principal Cafer Koçyiğit for endorsing Yusuf Ziya Gümüşel, founder of an islamic foundation and sect leader, who facilitated the abuse of his daughter at the age of six by getting her “married.”

Students reacted to Koçyiğit by turning their backs while he was speaking at the graduation ceremony. Some parents also supported the protest with applause. 

After child abuse news surfaced, Koçyiğit defended the abuser father through his social media posts, citing Quranic verses to claim the abuse as false accusation.

Following the posts, parents also held a press statement in front of the high school on in 2022 as a reaction to the principal. 

H.K.G., who is the daughter of Yusuf Ziya Gümüşel, the founder of Hiranur Foundation affiliated to İsmailağa Community, filed a criminal complaint about her parents. Journalist Timur Soykan on Dec. 3 started to publish his series of reportings regarding the incident.

Now 24 and divorced, the woman said that her father Yusuf Ziya Gümüşsel and her mother Fatıma Gümüşel had “married” her at the age of six with Kadir İstekli, one of the followers of İsmailağa Community. She said that she had been sexually abused throughout her childhood.

In 2014, Education Ministry launched the “project school” system in order to easily appoint pro-government administrators and teachers to Turkey’s most prestigious high schools. Most of the principles have been acting against the students in these schools in order to suppress them by using religious and conservative values. Cağaloğlu High School was one of these “project schools,” and students have been protesting against the principles for a long time despite the risk of disciplinary punishments.