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The protest movement at Boğaziçi University has not abated since the nomination by Erdoğan of Melih Bulu to his presidency. Here are a few elements of information on recent repercussions.

An exhibition of improvised collages organized by protesting students became the excuse for a wave of Islamo-homophobic reactions.

Ali Erbaş, the director of Diyanet, responsible for Religious Affairs, was the first to describe as a “provocation” one of the works representing Shahmeran, a mythical creature half-woman, half-serpent, drawn on a printed prayer rug bearing an image of the Kaaba.

shahmeran kaaba Boğaziçi,

bogaziçiOn January 30, Erdoğan’s Minister of the Interior Süleyman Soylu anounced on his twitter account the arrest of “4 LGBTI deviants from Boğaziçi University who disrespected the Kaaba.” A Minister of the Interior who does not refrain from publicly qualifying people as “deviants” but who lodges a complaint for insults against whoever qualifies him as “bald”. Fairly astounding…

His sharing, considered as an appeal to hatred, and thus infringing Twitter rules, received a warning. It is restricted from view in France. “This Tweet has infringed Twitter Rules relative to hateful behaviors. However, Twitter has determined its availability may present an interest for the public.”


meih buluMelih Bulu, the man “parachuted” by Erdoğan himself to the head of Boğaziçi University, seized the opportunity offered by the Minister of the Interior in order to “defend the University and Islam against the LGBT”. He shared his tweet with the hashtag: #bogazicilgbtrezaleti, “the ignominy of LGBT at Boğaziçi”, launched by Islamists and used to target the work in question.

“The attack by an insolent group against the sacredness of Islam is in no way acceptable. This has absolutely no place in Boğaziçi values. Accordingly, an inquest is underway against those responsible for this attack”.

He deleted this tweet later, then shared it again minus the hashtag… But it was too late, screen copies were circulating on the networks.

Meanwhile, 4 of the University’s students were arrested and were still in custody and publicly called “deviants”. Because of the collage, they were charged with inciting hatred according to article 216/1 of the penal code concerning insults to religious values. 2 of these students were liberated on January 30 but the other two were incarcerated. However, this offense is subject to a maximum sentence of 6 months to 1 year of prison, thus these two young people should not be held in preventive detention.

Accounts of AKP afficionados all carry the same tune…sometimes offering “radical solutions” such as the one on this tweet: “You know what, you should bomb Boğaziçi with those who are in it, only then will your heart be quiet.” Since then, the account of @halepli00Muhammed Nur, who claimed in another tweet that “the Islamist movement cannot be stopped” has been suspended.


Istanbul’s governor announced that during raids on the Boğaziçi LGBTI club, “lgbt flags and various placards and banners used in demonstrations were seized”, in a formulation usually used to announce seizures of criminal or terrorist materials. Reactions…

Erdoğan joins the long list of homophobic speeches by governmental officials. He congratulates the youth of his Party for not being LGBT: “We will carry our youth toward the future, not as young LGBT but as the youth of this country’s glorious past. You are not young LGBT”.

Bahçeli, the leader of the MHP nationalist Party, could not miss the opportunity to speak up also… He compared the student protestors to the soldiers of Yazid who attacked the Kaaba or again to the capture of the Mecca’s Great Mosque by Islamist terrorists in 1978, without omitting interior and exterior forces who wish to harm Turkey. His declaration containing all the elements of bigotted and nationalist imagery is remarkable…

Boğaziçi does not give up! The protests are ongoing and increasing faced with this homophobic wave added to the democratic demands and the demand for the liberation of the 2 students still under detention…Protests are also taking place in other towns. The University is under siege by police special forces. Dozens of students are arrested in Istanbul, in Izmir…

On February 2, the governor of Istanbul declared that 159 students were arrested and taken into custody during the police operations.

In parallel, “Anadolu Gençlik Derneği”, Anatolian Youth association 1 organized an assembly in Beyazit, Istanbul. Slogans such as “the Nationalist Youth is here against miscreants defending university freedom at Bogaziçi” were chanted along with “Allah-u Akbar”. No police intervention. No arrests…

Fahrettin Altun, Director of presidential propaganda, announced that “Rector” Melih Bulu was the one who ordered the shutting down of the University’s LGBT association since such an association goes against values… “What moved to action those who committed the “rectorate’s blocking offense” is the decision above (photo of the tweet). As we can see, the University’s director had a perfectly legitimate reaction against those who attempt to trample our sacred values.”

In the past few days, the regime has installed snipers in front of the southern campus of the university. Video here.

As we end this article…

Following a policeman’s order to students to “lower their eyes and to disperse”, a hashtag was created spontaneously:  #AşağıBakmayacağız, “We do not lower our eyes”. Turning viral, it now heads the list of hashtags.Protests are ongoing, so are police interventions and arrests…

Support continues! A new appeal was launched for this evening at 21h00 to start again with the light games and the concert of pots and pans in Istanbul…

February 4th update

All students under arrest are released.

bogazici turkey turquie

Photo Boğaziçi Direnişi /Twitter @budirenisi

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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