Turkish Government Versus Academics

A post by Salman Hameed on his excellent blog Irtiqa about science and religion, particularly in the Muslim world:

There are a lot of things that are overall going well in Turkey. The economy is overall good (see this earlier post: Pew Survey – Turkey’s positive economic outlook) and scientific publications in Turkey have been steadily increasing (see this post here about 2011 numbers). But then there are also a lot of worrying trends. In particular, there is a deep concern about the abuse of power by the current government – especially after getting a strong mandate in the last election. There is also a struggle going on between Turkish scientists and government officials. Sometimes, this has resulted in skirmishes over evolution issues and sometimes over the equivalent of Turkish Academy of Sciences. Things are, of course, complicated and too often analysts paint these issues in “Islamists versus secularists” categories – which is not only simplistic, but also often wrong (see this earlier post on a sloppy article in NatureIs “Islamic Fundamentalism” on the Rise in Turkey).

At the same time, the arrests of journalists, students and scientists are real and a source of serious concern. Nature has an article about the launching of an international network to support Turkish scientists whose academic rights have been violated. I don’t know much about the network, but the article avoids the pitfalls of a completely simplistic narrative. The breadth of reasons for arrests shows a general lack of tolerance by the government for any kind of dissent. It is quite shameful and the lack of academic freedom will stymie Turkey’s own promising intellectual growth. From Nature: …. [and here Hameed quotes from the Nature article, which provides details about academics and students who have been arrested.]

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