Secularist academic jailed in Turkey
One of Turkey's most prominent academic reformers, Kemal Gürüz, was arrested and jailed yesterday. The move was condemned by human-rights activists and some Turkish scientists, who say that it is part of a systematic intimidation of academics who oppose the growing influence of Islam in the country's politics.
Gürüz is well known as a vociferous defender of secularism in education and science, and this is the second time in three years that he has been arrested. He is a retired chemical engineer and former president of both the Turkish of Higher Education Council (YÖK) and the Turkish science-funding agency TÜBITAK.
The exact charges against Gürüz have not yet been made public, but they are related to the country's long-running ‘28 February investigation’. On that day in 1997, the military gave a series of ultimatums to the Turkish government to reverse political moves that were considered threatening to the country’s constitutional secularism.
The government was forced out later that year, resulting in, among other things, the rigorous application of a ban on the wearing of the Islamic headscarf in universities. The ban has now been relaxed by the mildly Islamic government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which took office in 2003.
The 28 February investigation launched by Erdogan's government seeks to identify those who may have acted illegally to promote the 1997 ousting of the government, which had been the first to have a pro-Islamic agenda since the creation of the modern Turkish state in 1923. The investigation has already seen the arrest of a large number of people, mostly from the military. (...)