Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attacked the gay community in Turkey, accusing them of “sabotage” after a series of student protests.
Police had arrested four students over the weekend for photographing the Kaaba alongside a homosexual flag during protests at Bogazici University in Istanbul.
The same college witnessed another demonstration after the end of Erdogan’s televised speech on Monday, and dozens of students were arrested. Scenes posted on social media showed police officers arresting peaceful protesters.
“We will transport our youth to the future, not as the youth of the gay community, but as the youth of our glorious nation,” Erdogan told members of the ruling Justice and Development Party.
He added, “You are not the youth of homosexuality, you are not the youth who commit acts of vandalism. On the contrary, you are the ones who repair broken hearts.”
‘Incitement to hatred’
Rights groups accuse Erdogan of taking Turkey, which has a Muslim majority, and the officially secular state, on an increasingly conservative social path during his 18 years in power.
Homosexuality has always been legalized in modern Turkish history. But her community constantly complains of harassment, and she has banned the holding of LGBTQ events, including the annual Pride March under Erdogan.
Demonstrations took place last month, against the appointment of Erdogan loyal to him as president of Bogazici University.
During the protests, the protesters raised an artwork to protest the appointment of the new university president, which combines the science of homosexuality with the image of the Kaaba.
The Turkish police accused the four students of “inciting hatred.” Two of them are held in custody, while the other two students are under house arrest.
Turkish Interior Minister Suleiman Soylu described the suspects as four homosexual perverts.
Despite the presence of hundreds of riot police, students demonstrated again at Bogazici University on Monday, demanding the release of the four students and the resignation of the university president.
In other regions, a representative of coastal Izmir, social media reported scenes of a police fight with students waving the gay flag.
The demonstrations brought to mind images of the 2013 protests, which began to reject projects to demolish a park in central Istanbul, before spreading across the country and directly challenging Erdogan’s rule.
Last month, Erdogan described some of the participants in the student protests as “terrorists”.