Barely a week after Turkey’s Constitutional Court warned the ruling Justice and Development Party(AKP) to be more sensitive to the needs of secular forces within the nation, President Gul created a new crisis by selecting pro-AKP rectors for university positions and turned down faculty nominees who are supporters of secular rights. Professor Mutafa Akaydin of Akdeniz university was rejected. “My defense of secular values of the Republic is seen as a liability. I am paying the price for the headscarf decision.” Education expert Abbas Guciu agreed Gul decisions on rectors smacked of political factors rather than of academic ones. “The prime minister and the president talked a lot about democracy. When I look from exterior, I see a discrepancy between what they said and what is done.”
According to Turkish law universities send the president a short list of the top six candidates and he then selects one. Ordinarily, the person ranked number one is appointed, but President Gul in a direct slap in the face to secular academics, in many cases passed over the secular candidate and appointed the one who is more in tune with the ruling AKP. President Gul has often agreed the person with the highest number of votes should be selected, but apparently what he believed yesterday is no longer true today.