For about a month, young people and human rights groups have taken to the streets against the appointment of Melih Bulu, a person with inadequate skills and chosen on the basis of his loyalty to Erdogan as dean of Boğaziçi University, one of the main educational institutions in Turkey.
Demonstrations have intensified in recent days, following the arrest of over 250 people by police inside the university and in other parts of the country, including Ankara and Izmir.
Dozens of students are still under arrest. They face trial and jail.
The University demonstrations represent one of the rare open challenges to President Erdogan’s power in recent years. After the night of an attempted military coup in the summer of 2016 in which 250 people died, when the AKP leader’s power wavered, the government launched a veritable witch hunt.
Tens of thousands of opponents were targeted – activists, leading figures at home and abroad, military, judges, teachers, intellectuals – for membership, real or imagined, in the movement of Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, accused of being the mastermind of the failed coup.
Since the start of the protests, the president has also said several times that he does not want pro LGBTI youth in the country, extolling the “national and spiritual” values linked to Islam. Fahrettin Altun, Erdogan’s director of communications, defined gay and trans rights activists as a “savage minority” that promotes “immorality as freedom”.