Turkey: Protests against the death of a medical student who took his life after criticism from the religious community

Protests have erupted in Turkey after the death of a medical student who openly denounced the pressure and fear he experienced in his religious community’s dormitory on social media before committing suicide.

Sophomore medical student Enes Kara had talked about the pressure to be an active member of a religious community in Elazığ, eastern Turkey. In the clip he claimed he had ‘lost’ [his] whole joie de vivre and enthusiasm’.

Second-year medical student Enes Kara, 20, (above) talked about pressure to be an active member of a religious community in Elazığ, eastern Turkey, before committing suicide on Monday. In the clip he claimed he had ‘lost’ [his] whole joie de vivre and enthusiasm’

Kara’s death sparked public outcry at the dormitories of religious communities in Turkey — a practice the teen controversially claimed “forced him” to pray, cook and clean daily before his death, and attend religious community classes.

His friends from Fırat University’s Faculty of Medicine have united in protest at his passing on campus, meeting in front of the faculty building and holding carnations in memory of their peer.

Experts have now also spoken out against the conditions in which such students have to live.

The Psychiatric Association of Turkey said in a statement: “It is a public obligation to ensure that young people benefit from quality education, housing, food and psychosocial support services.”

The Turkish Ministry of Family and Social Services is also said to have made the decision to block online access to Kara’s latest video posted before he committed suicide.

Kara ended his life after posting an online clip in which he shared his concerns for the future and what he had experienced in the dormitory of the religious community where his family forced him to stay to “develop his spirituality”.

Tens of thousands of heartfelt messages in support of Kara were shared online in the wake of the student’s death, alongside the hashtag Enes Kara.

In the video message, recorded about a month ago, Kara, a self-confessed atheist, complained that he did not have time to prepare or study for his medical degree because he was “forced” to pray in the dormitory of the community.

The funeral of Kara, who left a handwritten note before his death, took place on Tuesday in the Belen neighborhood of Hatay, Turkey. He was reportedly not a practicing Muslim when he died, bianet.org reports.

On Friday night, thousands of protesters had gathered after the student’s suicide, with a handful of clashes with police, in Istanbul.

The photos show angry groups of young people resisting the often oppressive conditions imposed on those living in student housing run by religious sects in Turkey.

Turkish students took to the streets in Istanbul to demand change after the death of student Enes Kara.  The protesters (pictured above) carried placards and shouted slogans on Friday night

Turkish students took to the streets in Istanbul to demand change after the death of student Enes Kara. The protesters (pictured above) carried placards and shouted slogans on Friday night

Thousands of furious protesters slammed into a large vehicle in central Istanbul on Friday night after demonstrations over the high-profile suicide of a 20-year-old student

Thousands of furious protesters slammed into a large vehicle in central Istanbul on Friday night after demonstrations over the high-profile suicide of a 20-year-old student

Kara's death sparked public outcry at the dormitories of religious communities in Turkey — a practice the teen controversially claimed

Kara’s death sparked public outcry at the dormitories of religious communities in Turkey — a practice the teen controversially claimed “forced him” to pray, cook and clean daily before his death, and attend religious community classes. Pictured: Turkish police clash with protesters in Istanbul on Friday

Students were seen holding placards and singing through the streets of Turkey’s historic capital. The photos also show at least one injured young protester sprawled across the street after clashes with police.

Popular Turkish singer Tarkan shared his grief over Enes Kara being “driven to suicide” with a statement shared online.

He was also critical of parents who sent their children to be indoctrinated in religious community dormitories: “Dear mothers and fathers. Before it is too late, you need to listen sensitively and lovingly to what your children are feeling and thinking and be on their side unconditionally.

“Respect their free will, wishes and choices. Your priority should be their happiness. The life they lead is their life. Your children are not your property, nor yours.

“They are free souls who came into the world through us, their mothers and fathers. Instead of putting out their light, let your children illumine our hearts with that light.

“Remember, our most important job is to protect and care for our children. Not to let them serve the exploitation of bigoted and fanatical mentalities…’

The ruling AKP party has denounced the demonstrations. Vice-chairman and spokesman Ömer Çelik expressed his “deep sadness” at Kara’s death, before adding that “every death should bring a person face to face with his or her own soul.”

“Those who fight, produce ideological revenge and division through the death of a young person is not acceptable and not moral,” he added.

The opposition Labor party has since called on leading figures to fully investigate the circumstances surrounding Kara’s death, demanding that the religious community’s dormitories be closed to students.

An injured student is pictured sprawled on the ground after clashing with police in Istanbul's protests on Friday night

An injured student is pictured sprawled on the ground after clashing with police in Istanbul’s protests on Friday night

A group of Turkish students in masks are pictured wrestling with police during protests over the death of a medical student in Istanbul

A group of Turkish students in masks are pictured wrestling with police during protests over the death of a medical student in Istanbul

Police arrest a young woman protesting the suicide of medical student Enes Kara . along with thousands of others

Police arrest a young woman protesting the suicide of medical student Enes Kara . along with thousands of others

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