Commission to monitor renovation of prayer room at Turkey’s ODTÜ

Commission to monitor renovation of prayer room at Turkey’s ODTÜ

Commission to monitor renovation of prayer room at Turkey’s ODTÜ

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Upon instruction by the president of Turkey’s Higher Education Board (YÖK), a commission has been formed in order to monitor the renovation of a prayer room inside the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) campus as well as disciplinary measures to be taken by the Rector’s office against students who allegedly physically assaulted a group of students while they were performing prayers.

During a meeting with YÖK President Yekta Saraç, ODTÜ Rector Ahmet Acar “promised a complete renovation of the prayer room, which led to controversy within a month [of its announcement],” the state-run Anadolu Agency reported late Dec. 27, citing anonymous officials from the YÖK.

The initiative for establishing the monitoring commission follows President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s remarks urging YÖK to do whatever needed following a brawl between two groups of students at ODTÜ after one group attempted to perform prayers on a basketball court in protest of the alleged lack of prayer spaces on the site. 

“They attacked students performing prayers at ODTÜ. YÖK should do whatever is needed on this,” Erdoğan said during an event in Istanbul on Dec. 26.

Erdoğan said the Presidency would closely follow the developments on the brawl between the two groups of students and urged YÖK, the top body dealing with higher education institutions, to do its part in the incident.

The brawl broke out between the two groups at the university’s campus on Dec. 22, with one group demanding a new prayer room and another saying those who wanted a new prayer room were campaigning on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

On Dec. 23, upon Saraç’s instruction, staff from YÖK visited ODTÜ and met with students who were allegedly attacked, Anadolu Agency reported. The students complained that the current prayer room didn’t have enough space for separate prayer areas for women and men. 

After the students made their case, Saraç ordered the forming of a three-person commission in order to follow up on the renovation of the prayer room as well disciplinary measures to be taken by the university administration against the students who allegedly assaulted the others.