Czech academies mull asylum for purged Turkish intellectuals

Several politicians and academics have spoken out in favor of offering purged intellectuals a home.

By BOHEMIST STAFF

PRAGUE – It’s the week of the long knives in Turkey with tens of thousands of teachers and academics being expelled in a wrathful post-coup-attempt crack down by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

But, several Czech politicians and academics have spoken out in favor of offering these purged intellectuals a home in the halls of learning here.

Earlier this week, Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Bělobrádek in a Facebook post indicated he was willing to undertake efforts to liaise with Czech academic institutions to find positions for some 17,000 expelled professors and teachers in Turkey.

“I will be contacting our universities and scientific institutions, whether certain leaders can offer a place [for Turkish academics] at our universities. They could be valuable experts in middle Eastern Studies, Islamism, but even in the technical fields,” Bělobrádek’s post of July 21 reads, crediting Masaryk University as inspiring the idea.

Bělobrádek also serves as Czech Republic’s Minister for Science and Research and as the party head of the Christian Democrats.

Prior to the post, Mikulas Bek, rector of Masaryk University in Brno, the country’s second largest, said that his institution was ready to immediately offer work to Turkish academics.

“We will seek opportunities to influence educators and scientists who have been deprived by the Turkish regime of academic performance. We are ready to cooperate in the next steps with other Czech universities and the government so that we can find the fastest way to offer real assistance to Turkish colleagues who are persecuted for political reasons,” Rector Bek told local press.

“We support our colleagues and friends from Turkish universities and institutions of higher education with whom we are connected in solidarity during their difficult situation which is threatening both academic freedoms and autonomy of academia,” Charles University, the oldest domestic college, wrote in a statement.

Facebook readers gave the Deputy PM a lukewarm reaction to the idea, consistent with a growing trend across Europe of creeping xenophobia. A poll on Czech news website Novinky.cz showed a whopping 85 percent of readers disagreed with Bělobrádek’s plans to grant academic asylum to the persecuted academics.

The big-hearted plan has one fatal flaw, however. Erdoğan has reportedly issued a travel ban for all Turkish academics while he conducts an investigation into the failed coup attempt.

Bohemist

Bohemist is an upstart news outlet serving the Czech Republic. Feel free to write us at editor@bohemist.cz.

About Bohemist

Bohemist is an upstart news outlet serving the Czech Republic. Feel free to write us at editor@bohemist.cz.

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