Davutoğlu-linked Şehir to be turned over to Marmara University

Istanbul’s private Şehir University, reportedly caught in the crossfire of a battle between the country’s ruling Islamist party and breakaway members, will soon be turned over to the city’s public Marmara University.

The ongoing financial and land-related troubles faced by Şehir University, whose founders include former ally of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Ahmet Davutoğlu, are not part of a sinister campaign by the government to destroy the institution and its’ administration will be handed over to Istanbul’s Marmara University, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Spokesperson Ömer Çelik said on Monday.

"This is not a regulation against the teachers or students [of Şehir]. This is an issue regarding the faulty administration of the university. The guardian [institution] of this university is Marmara University. Thus, the guardian university will take over its administration,’’ Yeni Yüzyıl quoted Çelik as saying following an AKP Executive Board (MYK) meeting.

Şehir’s administration and students have been concerned that the institution, founded in 2008 by  Davutoğlu among others, would have to shut down its doors amid financial woes, Ahval contributor Maaz İbrahimoğlu wrote last month.

A Turkish court earlier this year ordered a freeze on the assets of the university after the country’s state-owned Halkbank asked for an arrest of funds citing the inability of the university to pay back the $70 million credit it owed. 

The university is also in a legal dispute over plots of land it uses. An administrative decision had granted the land to Şehir, but in March, a lower administrative court issued a stay of execution on the donation of one of the seven lots presented as security.

Critics have pointed to Davutoğlu’s plans to launch a new party to rival Erdoğan’s ruling AKP as motivation for what they called the targeting of the university by the government.

"This university was entirely granted by the prime ministry after our president became president [in 2014]. This is an unprecedented case. It is also against both the law and practices. Later on the university showed the land granted to the university as a security to the bank in order to receive credit,’’ Çelik said.

The AKP spokesperson said the government was simply rectifying the wrong practices that had taken place where Şehir University was concerned.