Middle East studies scholars are rallying to the cause of a Turkish professor who is being prosecuted for disseminating “terrorist propaganda” and praising “crime and criminals” based on an exam question he wrote asking students to compare two texts written by Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is designated by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization.
The Middle East Studies Association’s Committee on Academic Freedom has written a letter supporting the professor, Baris Unlu, a political scientist at Ankara University. The association wrote that the indictment against Unlu “conflates the use of texts for critical examination in an academic curriculum with engaging in terrorist propaganda. Further, if presenting Ocalan as a political figure is treated as a basis for criminal investigation, the government runs the risk of effectively criminalizing all academics, students, journalists and political organizers working on Kurdish issues.”
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