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Turkish University Cancels World Greek Language Day After Threats

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Ankara University. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Turkey’s Ankara University canceled its plans to commemorate World Greek Language Day on Tuesday, after its Faculty of Language and History-Geography received threats from angry social media users.

The university had planned an event to honor the history and literary merit of the Greek language, focusing on the works of Greek poet and Nobel laureate Giorgos Seferis.

The virtual conference was organized in collaboration with other Turkish educational institutions, including Istanbul University, as well as the Greek Embassy in Turkey and Greece’s University of Thrace.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the date of World Greek Language Day, Ankara University canceled the event, due to what it claimed were “erroneous perceptions regarding its purpose.”

Before its cancellation, the event was met with a barrage of threats and intense backlash from Turkish nationalists who viewed the celebration of the Greek language as a “dagger in the back,” as one Twitter user wrote.

The account, called “Eastern Mediterranean Political” in Turkish, headed up the vitriolic social media campaign against the celebration of World Greek Language Day by Turkish universities.

Feeding off of ultra-nationalistic, anti-Greek rhetoric, the account posted a series of inflammatory tweets about the event on Twitter.

“Celebrating World Greek Language Day on Anatolian lands where heroes have marched to martyrdom and the blood of martyrs has watered the soil is only fit for sycophants lacking national consciousness,” the writer tweeted.

Referring to Greece’s small Muslim minority population in Thrace, as well as Turkey’s acts of aggression in Greek waters in the Mediterranean Sea, the account user wrote:

“Organizing a foolish event and harboring sympathies for the Greek language puts a dagger in the back of Muslim Turks’ sovereignty in Western Thrace, and means that you have trampled on the Republic of Turkey’s interests in the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean.”

Other social media users considered that the cancellation of the event was ridiculous, and accused the academic institution of bowing down to nationalists attempting to stifle education.

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