Four recent graduates of a Turkish university have been arrested for displaying a cartoon mocking the nation’s president at their graduation ceremony.
The students at Middle East Technical University in Ankara made and carried a long banner printed with a cartoon of animals whose faces resembled Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, entitled “The World of Tayyip”, Reuters reported, citing a report from the state-run Anadolu agency.
Originally published by a satirical magazine, the cartoon was the subject of a defamation lawsuit by Mr Erdoğan 12 years ago. However, an Ankara court dismissed the case, saying that the cartoon was within the limits of freedom of speech, Reuters said.
Anadolu reported that the four had been “arrested…in the course of an investigation into a sign containing defamation of Erdoğan”.
Meanwhile, the Erdoğan government has fired another batch of about 200 academics as part of a wider round of sackings of 18,500 state employees – as a crackdown following the failed coup attempt of July 2016 continues.
They were prompted by alleged links with terror organisations and acts against national security.
The European University Association said that it was “concerned by the continued and grave pressures exerted on university autonomy and academic freedom in Turkey. The Association calls on the government of President Erdoğan to respect these internationally recognised principles and expresses its support for the Turkish higher education community.”