Turkish University Professor Fired for Insulting President Erdoğan During Lecture

Updated: May 1, 2019

Bilgi University confirmed that Professor Zeynep Sayın Balıkçıoğlu was fired after "insulting the Turkish president during a lecture" that had taken place the previous day.

Balıkçıoğlu, who worked in the communications department, was "dismissed immediately" after the university rector’s office learned of the incident.

“Our rector’s office also immediately gave instructions to analyze the incident and launch the necessary legal investigations about it,” the statement said.

The dismissal occurred after details of the lecture were posted on social media, and Turkish news outlets described Balıkçıoğlu’s remarks as “vulgar and rude.”

In March a British academic who lectured on computer science at Bilgi University was deported from Turkey without trial after being accused of “terrorist propaganda.” The professor was said to have been distributing illegal propaganda issued by the banned Kurdistan Worker’s Party; he claimed, however, that he simply had leaflets inviting people to a Kurdish festival.

He was later allowed to return to Turkey and is due to face trial.

Concerns have been growing over academic freedom in Turkey since a criminal investigation was launched in January after 1,128 Turkish academics signed a petition calling for an end to violence in south-eastern Turkey, leading to the detainment of a number of the signatories.

While academics outside Turkey may not face a specific threat, it would be a grave mistake to forsake the fruitful progress that