Turkish university rector says obedience to Erdoğan an ‘Islamic obligation’

The rector of a university in Turkey’s southeastern province of Şanlıurfa has said obeying Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a religious obligation for Muslims, according to a report by online news outlet T24.

Harran University Rector Ramazan Taşaltın made the statement while speaking to the pro-government radical-Islamist Akit TV, where he appeared as a guest on Sunday.

When asked if Erdoğan was ”alone,” Taşaltın responded by saying: “Of course he is. He was alone when he was fighting against FETÖ, too,’’ in a reference to the Gülen movement.

“FETÖ” is a derogatory term coined by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government led by Erdoğan to refer to the Gülen movement.

“In Islamic terms, it is fard al-ayn [an individual obligation] to obey Erdoğan, and opposing him is haram [forbidden],’ the rector added, noting, however, that the errors of Turkey’s president must be pointed out.

Turkey’s strongman has a firm grip over the country’s universities. In July of this year, Erdoğan issued a decree stripping much of the supervisory powers of the country’s education watchdog, YÖK, and gave himself sole authority to appoint university rectors.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.

“Legal proceedings have been carried out against 445,000 members of this organization,” Turkey’s pro-government Islamist news agency İLKHA quoted Turkish Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Faruk Aydıner as saying.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016, that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed about 170,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. On December 13, 2017, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018, that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016, and April 11, 2018, over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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