Turkish council rejects PhD thesis from US university for being critical of Turkey

The Turkish Inter-Universities Council has not approved a PhD thesis from the State University of New York at Binghamton over its critical stance against Turkey. Titled "Who Rules Turkey Between 1980 and 2008? Business Power and the Rise of Authoritarian Populism," the thesis' rejection prevents academic Mehmet Baki Deniz from obtaining the title of "doctor" in Turkey.

Hacı Bişkin / DUVAR

A PhD thesis from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton has not been approved by the Turkish Inter-Universities Council over its critical stance against Turkey. 

Titled "Who Rules Turkey Between 1980 and 2008? Business Power and the Rise of Authoritarian Populism," the thesis was written by academic Mehmet Baki Deniz, and the work's rejection by the top body prevented his acquiring of the title "doctor" in Turkey.

Deniz's attorney appealed the council's ruling at Turkey's Court of Cassation on the grounds that it violated an article of the Constitution that ensures academics' rights to conduct all scientific research and publication freely.

The appeal petition noted that a recent amendment to regulation about foreign PhD theses enforced a "significant and obscure limitation" on higher education. 

"However, the limitation [on Deniz] was enforced not through law, but through administrative action concerning their status in the hierarchy of norms," the appeal said. 

The appeal noted that the topic and content of the PhD thesis was within the scope of freedom of expression, and that all criticism of political figures and administrations should be protected by the right. 

"The European Court of Human Rights rules that criticism should be received with acceptance and open-mindedness unless they include violence or encouragement of violence," the appeal said. 

Lastly, the appeal said that the thesis should be accepted as it carries weight for society at large, and included only academic statements about the topics it handled.