ISTANBUL (TURKEY) – The recently appointed Turkish university head has refused to step down despite the month long protests calling for his resignation over his appointment.
Melih Bulu, an academic and former political candidate, was appointed by President Tayyip Erdogan as the Rector. However, students and teachers at Istanbul’s Bogazici University, say the appointment process was undemocratic.
Protestors have been defying government ban which led to the arrest of more than 300 people in the last two days.
This appointment has sparked a nationwide debate over the reach of Erdogan’s government.
More than 250 people were detained during protests in Istanbul this week. Most have been released but 11 remain under house arrest, authorities said. In Ankara, 69 protesters were detained on Tuesday, state-owned Anadolu news agency said.
But Turkish media quoted Bulu as telling reporters in Istanbul on Tuesday: “I am never thinking about resigning.”
Bulu, who once applied to run for parliament under Erdogan’s ruling AK Party, told media that the “crisis will be totally finished within six months.”
On Tuesday, academics again gathered on the Bogazici campus with their backs turned to the rector’s building in protest. They chanted “Melih Bulu resign,” and carried signs reading “159,” the number of those detained on Monday.
The main opposition party leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has called for Bulu’s resignation. Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavas told Bulu in an open letter it would be better to sacrifice his position than “academic peace, youth and our future.”
Bulu told HaberTurk he was temporarily prevented from leaving the rector’s building on Tuesday to speak with “a team” of students, and that police would not let him meet the crowd.
Students have shared images on social media of a picture displayed at the university that mixed LGBT symbols and Islam’s holiest site, the Kaaba shrine in Mecca. The picture was condemned by Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.