Educated Turkish émigrés seek fortune and freedom 

 Halil Ibrahim Yenigün is a visiting post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Islamic Studies. While working at a university in Istanbul, he was one of more than 2,000 academics to sign a petition that started in January 2016 calling for a peaceful end to the country’s Kurdish conflict. Like many of those who signed the Academics of Peace petition, Yenigün lost his job. Scores of the petitioners are currently being prosecuted on charges of making propaganda for a terrorist organisation.“It’s enough for me if I can do things like thinking, reading, and writing as I want in to be in a free environment and for me to do this with other people who can do the same things,” said Yenigün. “I think that what makes the U.S. so different from the rest of the world is that it provides the breadth of freedom of thought and expression compared to other places in the world and the ability to gather those new and original ideas and to brainstorm.”Freedom of thought and expression, he said, “are necessities like bread and butter for universities.” 

Süha Giray

Oct 05 2018


Turkey’s worsening economy, problems in the education system and increasing restrictions on freedoms mean many educated Turks are leaving the country in search of a better life abroad.According to the most recent figures released by the Turkish Statistical Institute, the number of people who migrated from Turkey in 2017 increased by 42 percent year-on-year to 250,640. The primary age group of those who left was 25-29. Twenty-nine percent of those who left last year came from Istanbul, the country’s financial and cultural hub. 



 Halil Ibrahim Yenigün, profesor despedido firmante de la petición por la paz en Kurdistán Norte, explica su situación: «Aun habiendo discusión para decidir la mejor estrategia para sobrevivir, es una decisión personal. Algunos compañeros querían irse al extranjero para obtener las posiciones de académicos en peligro. Otros decidieron quedarse y salirse del mundo académico. Otros están separados de sus cónyuges después de que los decretos evitaran que pudieran cruzar la frontera (retiran el pasaporte). Yo supe que era inútil buscar otro trabajo y antes ya me había decidido a postularme para puestos en el extranjero».

Un camino que, para Yenigün, experto en la Universidad Stanford, persigue erradicar el pensamiento crítico:«No es la primera vez que las purgas ocurren en Turquía. Suelen producirse con la consolidación del poder político o con los regímenes de tipo golpista. El AKP quiere dominar la producción y diseminación del conocimiento porque se preocupa por lo que pensarán las futuras generaciones».






Muchos profesores han huido o no quieren regresar. Los purgados han sido eliminados de la vida pública y apenas tienen opciones de trabajar en el sector privadoEn 2016 comenzó una purga de profesores que firmaron una petición para resolver a través del diálogo el conflicto en Kurdistán 


Visiting Fresno State professor on Turkish president: ‘Everyone can potentially be a target, and that’s why everyone has to fear’

 by Sean Chen  April 13, 2018 


In a Thursday evening panel discussion titled “New Authoritarianism & Democratic Resistance, Reflections on Turkey,” visiting Turkish academics discussed the current socio-political environment, foreign policy and future prospects of contemporary Turkey. Sponsored by The Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies and chaired by visiting postdoctoral scholar Halil Yenigun, the discussion focused on the policies and impacts of Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s consolidation of power.

Islamisation of Turkey could lead to backlash

Umur Yedikardeş 

Apr 09, 2018 


Islamist movements grew in reaction to urbanisation and modernisation in the Middle East, but now those groups are in power and seen to be as corrupt as their predecessors a new wave of secularism could begin to emerge as a result of alienation from the new elite, said Halil İbrahim Yenigün, an academic at the Stanford University Center for Islamic Studies.In the 1950s, political scientists postulated that modernisation would inevitably lead to secularisation, but in Arab countries millions of Muslims turned to political Islam as a result of modernisation and urbanisation. In Turkey, religious groups and political movements also began to organise amongst the conservative poor who had migrated to the cities.The political ancestors of Turkey’s current ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) tried to rally the poor, both workers and small business owners, around the concept of social justice. Meanwhile religious groups like the Gülen movement tried to provide better access to education.

Has democracy failed in Turkey? One scholar, activist shares his story

MAR 7 2018



Halil Yenigun is a visiting postdoctoral scholar at Stanford’s Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies, who left Turkey in 2016 amidst a government crackdown on dissenting academics. In the below interview, Yenigun shares his story of advocating for democracy, human rights, and peace in Turkey, and calls for “global democratic solidarity” across borders to keep invasive governments in check.


Erdogan’s Government Takes on Islamist Dissent in Turkey 

 “I think, unlike what many mistakenly think, the current crackdown in Turkey cannot be characterized as an Islamist suppression of leftist, secular and Gülenist groups. Kuytul case has now the primary example to show that,” Halil Ibrahim Yenigun, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University who studied Islamist groups and democracy in Turkey and in the region, told Globe Post Turkey.“Kuytul, an Al-Azhar trained, Salafi-oriented opponent of the Erdogan regime, who still keeps himself apart from ISIS cells and the more pro-government pro-Al-Qaeda Salafis has been rounded up along with many of his cadres and followers.”

According to Mr. Yenigun, the Salafi cleric was not the first to draw the wrath of the regime. “In fact, vocal Islamist critics such as Kadrican Mendi have already served prison time earlier.”He added: “The No front in the referendum among the Islamic circles have been repeatedly targeted and even one of their gathering places, a cafe named Buhurdan in Üsküdar, was shut down by the municipality for some bizarre excuses.”What infuriated the regime most, he underscored, was Mr. Kuytul’s antiwar statements following the earlier, widely circulated comments that dubbed AKP “ZKP,” i.e., “Oppressive Development Party.” 

By Abdullah Ayasun On Feb 23, 2018 


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s unrelenting four-year crackdown on his former ally, U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, and his movement is now a universally known phenomenon. Especially since the 2016 failed coup, which the government blamed on Gulen movement, the president was able to coalesce a large coalition of Islamist, religious and right-wing groups against the U.S.-based cleric. Majority of Islamist groups fell in line behind Erdogan in his zealous vendetta against Gulen sympathizers.

Advocates for peace in their home country, Turkish academics now live in limbo abroad 

Claire Sadar

Jan 30 2018


Halil Yenigün was supposed to be at the press conference that led to his friends’ arrest, but had to cancel at the last minute. Yenigün is one of more than 2,000 signatories of a petition to the Turkish government by a group called Academics for Peace. The January 2016 petition called for the end to state violence against Turkey’s Kurdish citizens . Almost immediately, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan began denouncing the signatories, insinuating that they were equal to terrorists . In March 2016, three academics, friends of Yenigün who had signed the petition were arrested days after they held the press conference that Yenigün had planned to attend.They would not be the only ones; more than 1,000 signatories are subject to legal consequences. Many others have left Turkey, and now have to rebuild their lives.Yenigün was one of the first to feel the impact of his support for the petition. On Jan. 15, Yenigün was suspended from his position at Istanbul Commerce University and on Feb. 22, he was fired. That was a signal to any other university or organisation thinking about hiring him. He was disinvited from panels and speaking engagements in the wake of the university’s decision.

Turkish Professor Halil İbrahim Yenigün Fired for Signing the Academics for Peace Petition

February 29, 2016

Ebby Abramson


Assistant Professor Halil İbrahim Yenigün was dismissed from his position at İstanbul Commerce University after a 40-day suspension for signing the Academics for Peace petition and the publication of a column by a government mouthpiece targeting him.