Former professor jailed for preventing headscarved student entry to faculty released
CİHAN PhotoA former professor at Ege University in Turkey’s Aegean city of İzmir, who was jailed for preventing a female student with a headscarf from entering a faculty building, was released on April 16 after spending four-and-a-half months in jail.
Esat Rennan Pekünlü, who entered jail on Nov. 27, 2014, was released after completing his term in the Foça Open Prison in İzmir. Pekünlü was the first individual to be sentenced according to a law regarding a female’s right to education.
Pekünlü, a former professor of astrophysics at Ege University, began a two-year-one-month jail term after refusing to allow a student to enter a university building because of her headscarf.
His students prepared a ceremony for his release on April 16. However, they were forced to cancel it after Pekünlü was released in a morning earlier than the scheduled time, his lawyer Murat Fatih Ülkü said. Ülkü added that Pekünlü had warned his students to “comply with the constitution” while entering faculty buildings.
Lawsuits have also been filed against Pekünlü by other female students for the same reason, but these trials have yet to be completed.
Before beginning to serve his time in the Foça Open Prison, Pekünlü gave his last lecture on the “Universe and Evolution” on Nov. 27 in a park in İzmir’s Bornova neighborhood.
The ban on wearing headscarves in universities was lifted during the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) term in office.
Most recently, a government decree changing the regulation on the dress code in public schools was published on Sept. 27 in the Official Gazette, allowing girls as young as 10 to attend classes while wearing headscarves.