Three students detained for “insulting Erdoğan” at graduation ceremony

Three students who carried a banner with cartoons of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s face on a variety of animals at their graduation ceremony on Friday were detained by police in house raids the next morning on charges of insulting the president, left-wing Evrensel newspaper said.

The cartoons had already been at the centre of another case, in which the cartoonist was found innocent of the same charges for drawing them.

The ceremony, at the Middle East Technical University, a traditionally left-leaning university which is regularly ranked among the top higher education institutes in Turkey took place in a tense atmosphere, as campus security had earlier attacked students who were protesting the appointment of rector Mustafa Verşan Kök by the government despite his having lost consultative elections by staff to another candidate.

Pro-government Sabah newspaper said that the banners held by students in part of a tradition of poking fun at authority during the ceremony constituted “incomprehensible insults towards Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan”.

“These so-called ‘students’, who talk at every opportunity about limited freedoms, democracy and civilisation, opened up a scandal banner,” it added.

Citizens demanded that the perpetrators and anyone who allowed it to happen face legal sanctions, the newspaper continued.

Former Mayor of Ankara Melih Gökçek also took to Twitter to criticise another banner carried by female students with the heading "Things that cause rape".

The banner had unticked tick boxes next to the words "going out at night", "being drunk", "miniskirts", and "flirting" and a ticked tickbox next to the word "rapists".

"You already know the reasons, don't do the first four things," Gökçek tweeted, accompanied by three laughing emojis. "Are(n't) those who do them idiots?"