Tag Archives: Turkish universities

Turkish Universities Furious At Political Interference

Professors at Turkish universities are furious at the decision of President Abdullah Gul of the religious leaning Justice and Development Party(AKP) to ignore recommendations of teh Higher Education Board(YOK) and appoint religious leaning professors to the position of rector of a university. Professor Ural Akbulut, former rector at ODTU, told the Turkish Daily News a university’s recommendation for the post of rector must be respected because college faculty know those on the list and have decided which ones they most highly respect. Professor Kadkri Yamac, former rector of Gazi University in Ankara obtained twice the number of votes as the person who was selected but YOK disregarded the election results and excluded his name from those submitted to Gul.

Business groups like the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association urged politicians to stay out of the university administration and allow the faculty to make decisions. Most university professors believe President Gul is taking revenge against them for refusing to support his efforts to end the ban on wearing a headscarf in a university.

Headscarf War Rages In Turkish Universities

The first official objection to allowing the use of the headscarf in state universities came from the Inonu University Senate, which forsees tension and conflict between students with different religious and political beliefs. University Rector, Fatih Himioglu, warned, “Permitting the headscarf will spark a regime crisis in Turkey. It will propgte down quickly to high schools and elementary schools.” The university Senate stated its objections: “Constitutional Court Decisions are binding on the legislative just like any other institution, and no amendment can run counter to the Constitution’s unalterable clauses.” Article 4 of the Constitutin forbidss changing or proposing a change in the first three articles. Article 2 states that Turkey is a secular republic. It is clear that the drive to open the path for the use of the headscarf in universities is meant as a tentative m oe toward changing the nature of th regime, read the statement.

It is clear university faculty regards the headscarf as an opening wedge to throttle free speech and behavior in higher education institutions. There is also fear once the headscarf is allowed in universities, the idea will spread to high school and the elementary grades where it is much more difficult for girls to resist demands to wear one. There is need for the Justice and Development Party to clarify its long term goals regarding use of the headscarf in education. Is it an opening wedge?