Turkish soccer star loses honorary degree

Hakan Şükür has honorary doctorate removed over his alleged support for a banned political movement

June 29, 2017

One of Turkey’s greatest ever footballers has been stripped of an honorary degree awarded in his homeland.

Hakan Şükür – who is the all-time top scorer for Turkey’s national team with 51 goals – was handed an honorary doctorate by Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University in 2012.

However, the university in the Dardanelles, in western Turkey, has announced that its council has unanimously decided to withdraw the award from the former Inter Milan and Blackburn Rovers striker over his alleged support for the Gülen movement, which is accused of masterminding a failed overthrow of president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in July 2016.

Mr Şükür – who won eight league titles with Galatasaray – was tried in absentia in June 2016 for insulting the president on social media. There is currently an outstanding arrest warrant for him in Turkey although he is living in exile.

A statement posted on the university’s website said, “According to the widely accepted opinion in public and in our university that Hakan Şükür is involved with the [Gülen movement] that has illegally infiltrated the state and other institutions, our university senate decided to withdraw its decision of 2012 that granted an honorary doctorate to him,” says the Turkey Purge website.

According to the site that details the post-coup crackdown, some 8,200 academics have lost their jobs since July 2016 and almost 140,000 people in total have been sacked. About 2,000 schools, colleges and universities have been closed for alleged links to the Gülen movement, whose leader is the former Erdoğan ally Fethullah Gülen, an Islamic cleric living in exile in America.

Mr Şükür, who retired in 2007 and became an MP for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2011, was expelled from his club membership of Galatasaray in March under pressure from the government.

His assets have been confiscated by the state and his father Sermet Şükür was released after being remanded in custody for three months. He is still on trial due to “terror links.”

jack.grove@timeshighereducation.com

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