August 22, 2014

Fatih grads to sue İstanbul University for discrimination

A number of Fatih University graduates are preparing to file a law suit against İstanbul University administration, claiming that their applications for post-graduate programs have been rejected for discriminatory reasons.

The graduates feel they are the subject of discrimination due to their connection with the faith-based Hizmet Movement, which has been the target of government ire.

“We decided to demand justice for the discrimination we faced. It is no longer important whether I get in to İstanbul University or not. What is important for me and my friends is to raise our voices against this injustice,” Fatih University graduate, E. -- who is a victim of the alleged discrimination at İstanbul University -- told Today's Zaman on Friday.

Stating that he might also bring a criminal suit based on Article 122 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) -- which criminalizes discrimination based on race, language, religion, sex, politics, philosophical belief and differences of opinion -- E. assured Today's Zaman that he is willing to “fight to the finish.”

“If I had received 10 points out of 100 in the interview, it would be sufficient for me to be directly admitted to the İstanbul University. But I was given zero points and eliminated arbitrarily. If we do not hold those responsible accountable today, this discrimination will be done to others as well,” the student added.

Fatih University graduates who wanted to do post-graduate study at the faculty of law at İstanbul University have been given unusually low grades in their interviews, leading them to feel as if they are being punished for having studied at a Hizmet-affiliated university. The list of students who won spots at İstanbul University after the post-graduate exams held from July 13-14 -- which included written exams and interviews -- was posted on the official website of the Social Sciences Institute of the university on Wednesday. Only one out of the 23 Fatih University graduates who took the exam was admitted to the university, despite the fact that most of these students scored more points than their rivals.

Another Fatih University graduate, who asked to be referred to as A., said she will answer the irrelevant and discriminatory questions asked by the jury committee by filing a suit against the university administration.

“They asked me why I chose to study at Fatih University five years ago instead of Istanbul University and insulted me by claiming that I had acted on someone else's suggestions. Naturally, I did not answer those questions at the time, but they will get the best answer when I file a suit against them,” the student told Today's Zaman.

The Justice and Development (AK Party) government launched a battle against the Hizmet movement late last year following the exposure of a graft and bribery probe in which senior government members have been implicated. Accusing the movement of having orchestrated the probe, the government has begun a systematic war on Hizmet-affiliated schools, banks, media organs as well as individuals.

Another Fatih University graduate student who also declined to be named claimed that jury members told him to re-apply to the university in December.

“I was told that I should apply for post-graduate study in December. This made me curious. For what reason should I wait until December? I think they believe that the ongoing political congestion will calm down and they will be able to choose the students according to real criteria,” the student noted.

The students said the jury members had a meeting following the interviews after which they told the Fatih graduates who took the university's post-graduate exams to re-apply to the university in December.

Today's Zaman attempted to reach officials from İstanbul University for comment on the discrimination claims. The dean of the law faculty, Professor Adem Sözüer, declined to make a statement regarding the allegations.

Published on Today's Zaman, 22 August 2014, Friday