This author once described a Turkish university as “just a group of buildings gathered around a library and a mosque,” to paraphrase a quote from Shelby Foote. Today, universities in Turkey are increasingly becoming seats of Islamic learning, zeal and government bootlicking.
Life, for many scholars, is gloomy. Since the attempted coup in July 2016, nearly 6,000 academics have been dismissed from public universities under emergency decrees, including 378 who had signed a January 2016 Academics for Peace petition condemning the government’s security operations in the Kurdish southeast. Another 38 academics from public universities and 48 from private universities have been dismissed by their universities and were told by university officials that the reason was signing the petition. Scores of academics (more than 265) who signed the “peace call” are being prosecuted on charges of terrorism.
“The Turkish government’s crackdown is targeting academics and damaging its universities,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Academics and students should be free to express, teach, and research controversial or critical ideas without risking dismissal or imprisonment”.