BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN
As if Turkish President Recep Erdogan did not have enough headaches, he now faces a new accusation that he may have forged his college diploma. If true, he would be forced to resign from his presidential seat and possibly go to jail or into exile.
Rumors have been circulating for some time that Erdogan may not have a college degree which would disqualify him from his presidential position according to Article 101 of the Turkish constitution which requires that presidential candidates “have completed higher education.”
Journalist Cengis Candar, in an Al-Monitor.com June 15 article titled: “Is Erdogan’s university diploma forged?” exposes the serious suspicions regarding the validity of the Turkish President’s college diploma.
As Candar explains, “Erdogan went to an imam-hatip school, a high school-level institution that educates religious preachers. During the 1970’s and 1980’s, graduates of those schools could pursue their higher education only in theology.” Nonetheless, when Erdogan ran for President in August 2014, he presented to the Higher Electoral Board a photocopy of his diploma claiming to have received a college degree in 1981 from the Dept. of Economic and Administrative Sciences of Marmara University.
The problem here is that Marmara University was founded only in 1982, making it impossible for Erdogan to have graduated a year before the University came into existence. Since the Dept. of Economics was established only in 1983, Erdogan could not have graduated from that department in 1981, as he claimed. Unfortunately, none of these suspected allegations can be thoroughly investigated in Turkey by the media or civil society in view of the dictatorial nature of the Erdogan regime which routinely shuts down newspapers and prosecutes all opponents.
The President’s aides are adamant that the accusations against Erdogan are not valid, as they emanate from members of opposition parties. The first complaint came from former judge Omer Faruk Eminagaoglu who presented to the Higher Electoral Board his suspicion that Erdogan did have a college degree because of the existing discrepancies in the photocopy of his diploma. The Electoral Board promptly rejected the judge’s appeal.
A second challenge was mounted by extreme Turkish nationalist Gokce Firat who presented detailed arguments to support the claim that Erdogan’s diploma is a forgery. Firat demanded to see Erdogan’s original diploma rather than the photocopy he had submitted to the Higher Electoral Board. The Turkish nationalist accused the President and Dean of Marmara University of aiding and abetting in the crime of forging Erdogan’s diploma. He claimed that the signatures of the President and Dean of Marmara University seen on the copy of Erdogan’s diploma do not match the ones on Firat’s own diploma from the same university. He also questioned the validity of the sequence of the number found on Erdogan’s diploma. Finally, Firat claimed that even the design of the Turkish President’s diploma is different from the ones held by other graduates.
Earlier this month, the pro-Kurdish HDP Party submitted an official parliamentary inquiry, asking Education Minister Ismet Yilmaz “to clarify the mystery surrounding the validity” of Erdogan’s university diploma. In response to a similar request to the Higher Electoral Board, the HDP received a notarized copy of the Turkish President’s diploma. However, the HDP announced that it will continue to challenge the validity of the diploma.
In his article, Cengiz Candar raised serious concerns about Erdogan’s legitimacy as President of Turkey should it be proven that his diploma is forged: “If taken seriously, the follow-up to the controversy could create monumental legal questions in Turkey. If it turns out Erdogan was never qualified to be elected president, whatever he has signed or implemented would have to be considered null and void from a purely legal point of view. Politically, it would provide an armory of ammunition to his critics whose numbers abroad are rapidly increasing. And if Erdogan’s university diploma proves to be a forgery, that would naturally provide ammunition to his international opponents to bring up the argument of whether his title is legitimate.”
While President Erdogan is demanding a DNA test to verify the ethnic origins of the 11 Turkish members of the German Parliament who voted to recognize the Armenian Genocide, it may be more appropriate to carry out a chemical analysis of his diploma. Erdogan should also undergo a psychological examination to evaluate his persistently irrational psychotic behavior!