|By Michael Rubin | AEIdeas |
When Recep Tayyip Erdogan became Turkey’s president in 2014, a legal precondition for the office was a university degree. In theory, this shouldn’t have been a problem. His official biography says he received a degree in 1981 from the Department of Economic and Commercial Sciences at Marmara University. The problem was, no such department ever existed at the university, although in 1982 the university opened a Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences. (The university has no record of Erdogan ever attending it). Cengiz Çandar, an Erdogan apologist-turned-critic, had more on this last year, here.
Now, it seems, there is new evidence to suggest Erdogan lied about his past and forged documents in order to qualify for the office he now holds. Consider the following, pointed out to me by a seasoned Turkish journalist:
Erdogan said he was first admitted to the university in 1973, but official documents show he was employed as an unskilled laborer by the Istanbul Electric Tram and Tunnel company between July 24, 1974 and June 18, 1981. He played semi-professional soccer, and his soccer license application says the same thing. When he resigned from the Istanbul Electric Tram and Tunnel company, he submitted a hand-written note saying he had been employed since 1974, but was offered a better job and so wished to resign. The idea that he worked full time in a job and studied full time in the university simply isn’t realistic.
Erdogan has eviscerated the judiciary and rule of law, and so there is no realistic legal remedy for the fraud in which he has engaged or to hold him to account. How ironic it is that when some elements in the military moved last year to force the removal of the president, both the coup plotters and the president were equally illegitimate in the eyes of the law.