Violence has no grounds in ODTÜ culture: Minister

Violence has no grounds in ODTÜ culture: Minister

Violence has no grounds in ODTÜ culture: Minister

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Turkey’s education minister has said violent acts have had no ground in Middle East Technical University’s (ODTÜ) campus culture despite a current endeavor to depict the university as the opposite, amid a roiling debate over a prayer room renovation at the campus.

“These sort of violent acts as well as domestic violence have had no grounds in ODTÜ’s campus culture thus far. ODTÜ has been a nest of science and it must be,” Turkish Education Minister Nabi Avcı told the state-run Anadolu Agency following an award ceremony in Ankara on Dec. 28.

Avcı cited an endeavor to depict violence as part of ODTÜ culture and described the attempt as wrong, condemning the latest conflict between two student groups over the renovation of a prayer room at the campus. A brawl broke out between the two groups 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).

“How would you comment if you were me, as an ODTÜ graduate? Of course, I condemn [attacks between students],” Avcı said when asked what he thought about the incident.

The university 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 new prayer room demands were being evaluated.

Avcı’s statements came as the deputy head of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) called on Turkey’s Higher Education Board (YÖK) to increase ODTÜ’s student capacity, implying the reason for the latest conflict at the popular university was a small capacity, which he said made ODTÜ a college for upper-middle class students.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made a similar call, urging YÖK to take necessary action on the brawl over the prayer room reconstruction at the campus.