Moral scrutiny sparks fury

November 4, 2005

Turkish police have put university students under surveillance after the Interior Ministry ordered all student activities to be monitored. The measures include spot checks on students in bars and nightclubs for "inappropriate behaviour".

The authorities have been told to inform universities and parents of such behaviour.

Academics criticised the directive. Türkan Saylan of Turkey's Higher Education Council (Yok) told The Times Higher : "Anyone over the age of 18 is legally free. This move to keep tabs on students, and complaining about what they get up to, is uncivilised and unjust." At Istanbul University, student anger is widespread. Abdullah Tas, a law student, said: "It is none of their business what we do in our private lives. We are meant to live in a democracy - is this democratic?"

Yücel Askin, rector of Yuzuncu Yil University, said the directive was ambiguous: "Are instances of male and female students holding hands inappropriate?"

Stung by the criticism, Abdulkadir Aksu, the Interior Minister, said the circular would be rewritten but not withdrawn. He said it was designed to protect students from "provocative actions".

All students in university dormitories will be vetted by police.

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