Turkish professor resigns over joke about Erdogan’s 16 warriors

A dean at Pamukkale University in western Turkey has resigned after his social media posting that mocked President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “16 warriors,” symbolic figures standing for 16 states founded by Turks in history, attracted online reaction, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.

“Which Turkish principality is this one wearing a bathrobe?” asked Professor Hasan Herken, the medical faculty dean of Pamukkale, in a tweet. He later deleted the tweet.

However, Herken apparently failed to delete the post soon enough, announcing over the weekend that he had resigned. The interpretations of his post went beyond his intentions, the dean said in a written statement, adding that he did not insult “the history or moral values of the nation, or the president who represents the Turkish state.”

The medical faculty at the university has achieved many successes and innovations, but it was sad for the dean to be remembered for a social media posting, the statement said.

“Feeling responsible for and wanting to avoid a situation where the university will become a target to serve other purposes, I leave my post as a dean,” he said. “I will continue with my studies as an academic at the psychiatry department.”

Herken elaborated on his resignation during a phone interview on private broadcaster CNNTürk on the evening of Jan. 16, saying his decision was related to death threats. “They were threatening to tear me apart. There were threats against my family, too,” he said, referring to online reactions.

The 16 warriors first appeared on the stairs of Turkey’s newly-built presidential palace ın Ankara, as Erdogan and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas posed for a photo on Jan. 1, capturing national and international attention.

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