Sezer sacks Istanbul head

October 15, 2004

Turkish president Ahmet Necdet Sezer has sacked the rector of the University of Istanbul for failing to enforce judicial rulings - an action the rector has denounced as politically motivated.

Kemal Alemdaroglu's eight years as head of the university have been marked by controversy. He was in the vanguard of enforcing the ban on headscarves on university premises and has attacked the Islamic-oriented Government for threatening the secular state.

In 2001, he was comfortably re-elected as rector and has substantial support among the university's faculty. Members of the university senate tendered their resignations after his dismissal but withdrew them after an appeal from Dr Alemdaroglu.

But even among his supporters in the university and in the higher education authority, Yok, his popularity had begun to wane. He triggered an international incident by declaring on television that while Turkey would "lose another 135,000 soldiers, we still can conquer Greece". And earlier this year a complaint of plagiarism was upheld when a book published under his name was found to have been copied.

President Sezer acted on a detailed report from Yok that contained a number of accusations, among them his defiance of court rulings to reopen a cardiology unit at the university.

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