Row between Istanbul Municipality, AKP continues as ministry tries to cut students' free internet service

The AKP tried to cut free internet services provided by the opposition Istanbul Municipality to students on Oct. 20.

Duvar English

The months-long row between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Istanbul Municipality has once again shown itself, this time with the former trying to cut free internet services provided to students by the latter. 

The Istanbul Provincial Youth and Sports Directorate attempted to remove a free internet spot that the opposition Istanbul Municipality had installed in front of a public dormitory in the city's suburban Başakşehir district on Oct. 20.

The dormitory had been the site of protest, with the students demanding increased security since three stabbing incidents took place nearby in the past week, better access to public transportation and better internet service in the housing unit. 

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) released a statement shortly after the protest on Oct. 19, ensuring the protesters that the municipality would become involved to resolve their issues as much as they could. 

"I previously gave my word to the Kanuni Sultan Süleyman KYK Dormitory students who protested for their rightful demands," İmamoğlu said in a tweet on Oct. 20. "We provided free internet and increased the times for the local buses."

The mayor also promised the students that security cameras would be installed on nearby streets to boost safety, and that city police would be on patrol. 

A van providing its vicinity internet access was parked in front of the dormitory building, but reports emerged a few hours later that the local office of the Youth and Sports Ministry had been trying to remove the service. 

"Are you worried about providing solutions or beating the provider?" was the meaning of an idiom Municipal Spokesman Murat Ongun shared on Twitter after the intervention. 

The spokesman reported that ministry officials were attempting to remove the provider van from in front of the dormitory, and called the incident "incomprehensible."

The situation was resolved shortly, and the spokesman said that the internet service would continue, and thanked the Youth and Sports Ministry as "providing good shelter and workspaces for the youth" is a common goal between the offices. 

Youth and Sports Minister Mehmet Kasapoğlu protested the municipality in a tweet later on Oct. 20 for "making a scene" and claimed that the services implemented by the municipality had already been required by the ministry.

"It's pleasing that you've implemented, although late, your duties to provide transportation and lighting services. However, you didn't need to make a scene to fulfill the ministry request for increased bus times that was submitted nine days ago," the minister said in response to the Istanbul Mayor.