If university actions are crime , legal action should be taken: Higher education head
AA photoDays after forming a commission 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 performing prayers, the president of Turkey’s Higher Education Board (YÖK) has said the situation required legal action if the university’s actions constituted a crime.
The violence that worshipping students allegedly received does not befit ODTÜ or its students, YÖK President Yekta Saraç said on Dec. 31.
“It is being said this attack was carried out by leftist students. This is unfair to the universal definition of ‘left’ too. What we need to focus on is the accessibility of our ODTÜ students, who claim their most natural right of praying, to use this right,” Saraç said in a statement posted on his official Twitter account.
“The administration needs to provide conditions for the use of this right,” he said. However, he added, if the university’s actions affect an individual’s most fundamental freedoms, “then there is a crime and there is a judicial situation” and “its requirement should, of course, be carried out.”
His remarks came after a brawl broke out between two groups of students on ODTÜ’s campus on Dec. 22.
The brawl pitted a group demanding a new prayer room with another group accusing the other group of campaigning on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The brawl broke out after one group attempted to perform prayers on a basketball court in protest of the alleged lack of prayer spaces on campus.
The university had said in earlier statements that the brawl was not caused by insufficient religious places or the prevention of religious practices as was claimed, but rather “provocative” efforts by those with an “ISIL-like mentality” at a time when new demands concerning a prayer room were being evaluated.
Over the weekend, Saraç ordered the creation 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.
The initiative for establishing the monitoring commission followed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s remarks telling YÖK to do whatever necessary following the brawl.