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Bilgi University professor resigns after colleague’s dismissal for ‘insulting Erdoğan’

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Christoph K. Neumann, a professor at the İstanbul Bilgi University, has resigned after his colleague Zeynep Sayın Balıkçıoğlu was recently dismissed due to allegedly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a lecture.

Neumann wrote a resignation letter to the rector’s Office, saying that Bilgi is not longer a university due to restriction of freedoms.

“It does not comply with the existence of academic freedoms to dismiss professor Zeynep due to expressing her ideas during lectures no questions asked,” Neumann wrote in the letter.

“An institution without those freedoms cannot be called a university. Of course it is your responsibility to find an appropriate name for that institution, but Bilgi is no longer a university. In this sense, Bilgi University does not exist anymore,” Neumann added.

Pro-government media organs targeted Balıkçıoğlu before and reported her saying, “Unfortunately, I’m a citizen of Turkey and I don’t say this to insult anybody, but we’re living in society that is rude, vulgar and that acts with the understanding of ‘I can do anything I want.’ And he [Erdoğan] is the most rude and vulgar person that acts with that understanding. Therefore, he is able to identify himself with people in the streets that feel inferiority complex. Because, what is it that he feels before his Western brothers? Inferiority complex,” about Erdoğan during a lecture.

Cases of “insulting” Erdoğan are based on Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which states that anyone convicted of insulting the president should serve a prison term of between one and four years.

More than 1,800 cases have been started against people accused of insulting Erdoğan since he came to office in 2014, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ announced. Those who have gone on trial include celebrities, journalists, activists and even schoolchildren.

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