People have taken to Twitter to mock one of Turkey’s popular news channels for its headlines about the recent protests at Boğaziçi University.
Hundreds of students and academics at the university have demonstrated against the new university rector, Melih Bulu, who was appointed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the start of the year.
In many countries, the appointment of a new rector is usually made by the university’s board of governors. However, in Turkey the country’s constitution, created in the wake of 1980 military coup, allows the president to make these decisions.
Despite Prof. Bulu’s strong academic credentials and links to the university as a former student, many on campus object to the fact he is a political appointment.
The daily protests have made national headlines in Turkey, which in turn have generated a heavy handed response from the authorities. Some academics have been dismissed for speaking out against the appointment, and a SWAT team used to arrest peaceful student protestors.
Known for its pro-government bias, conspiracy theories and sensationalist news, A Haber has immersed itself in new controversy by accusing the United Kingdom of fomenting bedlam at Boğaziçi University. The news channel also claimed that the protests were being stoked by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and terror group the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK).
Despite no evidence linking them, President Erdoğan and pro-government media regularly mention the left-leaning CHP and PKK together as a means of discrediting the government’s main rivals in the eyes of the Turkish public.
On Monday, A Haber ran with the headline: “İngilizler kaos planına destek çıkıyor! Boğaziçi Üniversitesi’nde CHP ve PKK da devrede” [The British support the chaos plan! CHP and PKK are also active at Boğaziçi University’].
Twitter users add hilarious names such as Pele, Brigitte Bardot, The Avengers, Suicide Squad, and Trump to A Haber’s ludicrous claims of those behind the protests at Boğaziçi University
The ludicrous claims were mocked by social media users underneath its Twitter post.
One person wrote, “The King of England, late president Kkennedy [sic], the uncrowned king Pele, Backenbauer [sic], goalkeeper Mayer, Nadia Komanaçi, Brigitte Bardot and Fenerbahce Cemil are also involved”.
Another tweeted “Aside from cehape [CHP] and the Pkk; Avengers, Justice League, Guardian Of The Galaxy, Suicide Squad, etc. the biggest crusader coalition that history has ever seen is also involved in the coup attempt to [remove] the Akp rector of Boğaziçi!”
— Mark Lowen (@marklowen) January 4, 2021
Referring to the free trade agreement signed between Britain and Turkey a few days earlier, one Twitter user asked: “Do the British know about this? Just 3 days ago, they [A Haber] made happy, happy news about the big trade deal with Britain. You were talking about the importance of the UK to us?”
One person tweeted a photo of world leaders with the caption, “Damn it, Trump A Haber has broken up the big game again.”
Former BBC Istanbul correspondent Mark Lowen, whose picture is used by A Haber, also tweeted the news with the message “Ah canım [Ah my dear] Ahaber I missed you too.”
Who is the new Boğaziçi University rector Prof. Melih Bulu?
Professor Bulu, 50, is himself an alumni of Boğaziçi University having gained his Masters’ degree in Finance and Business after graduating in industrial engineering from Middle East Technical University.
However, it is his political career and the method of his appointment that has incensed people on the campus of Boğaziçi University.
Prof. Bulu is a long-standing member of the ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party). He helped established AKP’s Sarıyer district branch in Istanbul in 2002 and has served within the party for many years. He unsuccessfully stood as an AKP Parliamentary candidate in Istanbul during the 2015 General Election.
His academic career includes lecturing in Business Strategy and Game Theory at Boğaziçi and İstanbul Commerce universities between 2003 and 2010.
He helped establish Uluslararası Rekabet Araştırmaları Kurumu (URAK, International Competitiveness Research Institution) in 2004. He initially served as URAK’s General Coordinator and later became the President of its executive board between 2017 and 2019. His work with URAK included competitiveness analysis of Turkey’s different industrial sectors and cities.
In 2008, Bulu became an associate professor and was promoted to full professor in 2016.
Between 2010 and 2014, he headed Istanbul City University’s Department of Business Administration.
He became the founding rector of Istinye University in Istanbul, where he was based from 2016 to 2019. Most recently, he was the rector of Haliç University, before being appointed to Boğaziçi University by Presidential decree at the start of 2021.
Prof. Bulu recently revealed he was a big fan of Metallica, prompting students at Boğaziçi to set up a sound system near his office to blare out songs by the American heavy metal band.
Boğaziçi University students protest playing song’s from Metallica’s Master of Puppets album
— rockalive (@rockalivetr) January 6, 2021