ISTANBUL – Turkey’s president on Saturday criticized anti-war students at a top university, calling them “terrorists” and promising to oust them from their studies.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said “communist, traitor youth” tried to mess up a student stand opened by “religious, nationalist, local youth” at the public Bogazici University.
Speaking in northern Samsun province, Erdogan announced an investigation and said “we won’t give these terrorist youth the right to study at these universities.”
On Monday, students opened a stand distributing sweets dubbed “Afrin delight” to commemorate fallen soldiers in Turkey’s cross-border operation in Syria.
Another group protested against them, holding anti-war banners and chanting slogans such as “the palace wants war, people want peace,” in reference to Erdogan’s presidential complex.
The school week was tense with heavy police presence in the university. Turkey’s official Anadolu Agency said five people suspected of having attacked the student stand were detained. On Thursday, police detained seven others during a protest. A video showed plainclothes police officers dragging a young man.
Turkey launched a cross-border military offensive on Jan. 20 to oust Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units of YPG from Afrin in northwestern Syria. Turkey considers the YPG a terror group and an extension of Kurdish militants waging an insurgency within its own borders.
The Turkish government has not tolerated criticism of its military offensive and more than 580 people have been detained for “propaganda” on social media.
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