Erdogan Calls Anti-war Students at Top Turkish University 'Terrorists'

President makes remarks after fight between students supporting Turkish efforts in Syria and those protesting them

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara, March 20, 2018.
HAKAN GOKTEPE/AFP

Turkey's president has criticized anti-war students at a top university, calling them terrorists following a fight there.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday that "communist, traitor youth" tried to mess up a student stand opened by "religious, nationalist, local youth" at the public Bogazici University. Erdogan announced an investigation and said "we won't give these terrorist youth the right to study at these universities."

On Monday, a group of students opened a stand distributing sweets dubbed "Afrin delight" to commemorate fallen soldiers in Turkey's cross-border operation in Syria. Another group protested against them, holding anti-war banners.

Turkey's official Anadolu Agency said a fight broke out and 12 people were later detained.

Erdogan said on Sunday that the Turkish military and allied Syrian forces have taken “total” control of Afrin, a major development in the nearly two-months offensive against a Syrian Kurdish militia that controlled the area.

Several days later, tens of thousands of Turkish Kurds turned an annual celebration of the festival of spring of into a rare mass political protest against the government's campaign in against the Kurdish milita in Syria. 

At a rally to mark the spring festival of Newroz in the southern city of Diyarbakir, demonstrators said Ankara risked provoking violence at home if it pressed on with its Syria offensive.

Turkey hasn't tolerated criticism of its military offensive to oust a Syrian Kurdish militia that it considers a terror group.