Erdogan Removes Loyalist University Rector After Protests

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan removed a loyalist university rector, making a rare U-turn in the face of public protests.

The dismissal of Melih Bulu as head of the prestigious Bogazici University was announced Thursday in the Official Gazette, which didn’t give a reason for the move.

His acting successor was named as Mehmet Naci Inci, a former head of the physics department who was appointed deputy rector during Bulu’s tenure, pro-government Sabah newspaper reported.

Students, professors and alumni, who want the rector to be elected rather than appointed, have been demonstrating against the installation of the former ruling AK Party member Bulu since early January. Police have arrested dozens and raided some of the protesters’ homes.

Bulu’s appointment offered the government an opportunity to influence staffing at the formerly American university, which Erdogan’s supporters see as excessively pro-western. In February, Erdogan called the demonstrators “terrorists who wanted to raid the university rector’s office” and vowed to do “whatever is necessary” to stop them.

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