Row as Turkish president Erdogan honoured by Indian university

Turkish president feted just days after almost 500 academics are sacked

May 5, 2017
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Turkey
Source: Corbis

An Indian university has been criticised for conferring an honorary doctorate on Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan just two days after he reportedly fired almost 500 academics.

On a two-day visit to India, the Turkish president was awarded the honour by Jamia Millia Islamia University for his "contribution to strengthening international cooperation and peace,” International Business Times reported on 2 May.

The university – which is ranked 83rd in an internal ranking system run by the Indian government – awarded the degree on 1 May amid heightened security at its New Delhi campus.

According to the IB Times, President Erdogan lavished praise on India at the ceremony, calling for a permanent seat for the country at the UN Security Council.

However, President Erdogan’s honorary degree has sparked a backlash from students, staff and alumni, with more than 500 people signing an online petition which states it was a “terrible surprise and shock” to learn of the ceremony.

“Jamia administration's actions reflect a tragic transformation, short of the dignity that it once had as a proud and independent institution," the petition says.

Almost 8,000 academics have now lost their jobs in a purge of Turkey’s civil service since a failed coup on 15 July 2016.

Some 484 academics were sacked from public institutions over the weekend as part of a 29 April presidential decree, in which almost 4,000 people were dismissed in total, according to the Turkey Purge website.

More than 138,000 people have now been sacked since the July coup, while around 101,000 have been detained and more than 2,000 schools, universities and dormitories have been shut down for alleged links to the exiled Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen who is blamed for the attempted overthrow of President Erdogan.

jack.grove@timeshighereducation.com

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