Turkish government demands three years behind bars for students who “offended” Islam

A public prosecutor in Turkey has called for seven students to be caged for up to three years after a protest that “offended” the religion of Islam.

Students at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul were protesting the direct appointment of a new rector by authoritarian Turkish premier Recep Erdoğan, arguing that the appointment was an undue interference with the autonomy of the seat of learning.

Cops policing the university claim they found an image amid the campus protests depicting the Kaaba – the famous black structure at the centre of Islam’s holiest mosque in Mecca – surrounded by rainbow flags.

Two of the seven students were arrested back in January, sparking global criticism of the Turkish regime. The country’s interior minister Suleyman Soylu dubbed those responsible for the image “LGBT perverts” and has also called gay people “degenerate”.

The university has since shut down the campus LGBT group while Turkey’s director of religious affairs, who once openly linked homosexuality to disease, demanded the ongoing legal action.

Melih Bulu, the incoming rector with controversial links to the country’s ruling party, also slammed the posters and said they were at odds with the university’s core values.

The incident highlights the disturbing authoritarian nature of Turkey’s Muslim government, and raises new questions for outspoken supports of Turkish membership of the European Union – which would give over 80 million Turks unfettered free movement rights across the bloc.

Erdoğan, who some call a dictator, has been shamelessly buttered up by Eurocrats for years in a bid to stem the tide of refugee entry into Europe.

Last month he called on European leaders to “turn a new page” this year and said 2021 “offered a productive atmosphere in terms of new cooperation”. EU foreign affairs boss Josep Borrell said the bloc “[stands] ready to continue working on dialogue with Turkey”