The Turkish university head at the center of a month of protests over his appointment by President Tayyip Erdogan said he has no intention of stepping down after tensions rose with more than 300 people detained in the last two days.
Defying a government ban on demonstrations, students and teachers at Istanbul’s Bogazici University have protested against the appointment of Melih Bulu, an academic and former political candidate, as rector.
They say the process was undemocratic, sparking a nationwide debate over the reach of Erdogan’s government and separate protests elsewhere in Istanbul and in Ankara.
More than 250 people were detained during protests in Istanbul this week. Most have been released but 11 remain under house arrest, authorities said. In Ankara, 69 protesters were detained on Tuesday, state-owned Anadolu news agency said.
But Turkish media quoted Bulu as telling reporters in Istanbul on Tuesday: “I am never thinking about resigning.”
Bulu, who once applied to run for parliament under Erdogan’s ruling AK Party, told broadcaster HaberTurk the “crisis will be totally finished within six months.”
On Tuesday, academics again gathered on the Bogazici campus with their backs turned to the rector’s building in protest. They chanted “Melih Bulu resign,” and carried signs reading “159,” the number of those detained on Monday.
The main opposition party leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has called for Bulu’s resignation. Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavas told Bulu in an open letter it would be better to sacrifice his position than “academic peace, youth and our future.”
Bulu told HaberTurk he was temporarily prevented from leaving the rector’s building on Tuesday to speak with “a team” of students, and that police would not let him meet the crowd.
Students have shared images on social media of a picture displayed at the university that mixed LGBT symbols and Islam’s holiest site, the Kaaba shrine in Mecca. The picture was condemned by Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.