Boğaziçi University rector files complaint with police about students protesting his appointment

Boğaziçi University Rector Naci İnci, appointed to his position by the Turkish president, has filed a complaint with the police about students who took part in protests against his appointment, Turkish media reported.

İnci complained the students had threatened, insulted and prevented him from doing his job. They had also damaged property and violated the law on demonstrations and protests, he claimed. According to İnci the students insulted him by carrying banners that called him a government-appointed trustee and by stopping his car on the university campus.

Seven of the students who were on İnci’s list were questioned on Thursday about taking part in the protests, while three of them appeared in court, where the prosecutor demanded their arrest.

A prolonged series of protests broke out at the university after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan appointed Melih Bulu a founding member of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Sarıyer district branch and former deputy chairman of the AKP’s İstanbul provincial chapter, as rector in early January.

Bulu was dismissed in July, and İnci, a former deputy to Bulu, was appointed despite a 95 percent disapproval rating he received in polls held among the university community to determine possible rector candidates.

Seventeen candidates emerged with high rates of approval; however, President Erdoğan appointed İnci, prompting outrage among academics and students.

Political pressure on students of different age groups has been increasing. A high school student in Kocaeli was officially warned about handing out tea in the classroom. According to the school administration the student had insulted Erdoğan by impersonating him handing out tea to citizens during rallies.

An official report was written up about the student that said he had “mocked the president” and would be subject to disciplinary action if it were repeated.

Insulting the president is a crime in Turkey, according to the controversial Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). Whoever insults the president can face up to four years in prison, a sentence that can be increased if the crime was committed through the mass media.

According to the Justice Ministry, a total of 160,169 investigations and 35,507 cases have been launched on charges of insulting the president over the past seven years, beginning with the election of Erdoğan to the presidency in 2014 to the end of 2020.

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