Ankara calls student protesters ‘LGBT perverts’ amid artwork controversy

Clashes between students from Bogazici University and Turkish police show no sign of abating. Many students have been arrested, while the interior minister has lashed out with homophobic hate speech over an artwork. Turkish police have responded to protests by students at Istanbul’s Bogazici University with an iron fist. On Monday alone, they arrested 159 students — 61 of them remain in custody, according to the Turkish news agency Anadolu. Since early January, there have been regular police raids or arbitrary arrests of students who have been protesting against the appointment of Professor Melih Bulu, a supporter of Erdogan, as the rector of the prestigious university. Over the last four weeks, there have been numerous clashes around the Bogazici University campus. But one incident has proved particularly polarizing in Turkey. On Saturday the students organized an art exhibition on the campus. One work showed the Kaaba, considered one of the most sacred sites in Islam, alongside the rainbow flag, the symbol of the LGBTQI+ movements. The Istanbul prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation, and four students were arrested, with two of them still in detention.