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Thursday, 19 December, 2002, 16:36 GMT
Turkey probes academic's murder
Necip Hablemitoglu
Mr Hablemitoglu was shot near his home
Fears have been expressed in Turkey about the motives behind the murder of Necip Hablemitoglu, an author and historian and who specialised in Islamic groups.

Mr Hablemitoglu, a 48-year-old associate professor at Ankara University, was shot twice in the head outside his home on Wednesday night.

President Ahmet Sezer
President Sezer believes the murder to be political

No one has so far been detained in connection with the shooting. Prime Minister Abdullah Gul has said he has ordered police to solve the murder.

Mr Hablemitoglu, a left-winger, was known as a staunch nationalist and supporter of Muslim Turkey's secular system. He had been studying fundamentalist groups, particularly a controversial religious order, which authorities have accused of plotting to destroy Turkey's secular order.

'Political crime'

Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer said he hoped that the murder did not mark a return to "the bad days," an apparent reference to a series of political killings that rocked Turkey in the 1990s.

"It is obviously a terrorist act, a political crime," he said.

Don't cry. Your father prepared you for this ending

Victim's wife

Civil organisations like the Contemporary Journalists Association and the Turkish Union of Bar Associations have condemned Mr Hablemitoglu's killing, describing it as "political murder".

Many of the cases of murders of secular intellectuals dating back to the 1990s are still unsolved.

Threats

Reports of the shooting dominated the Turkish newspapers on Thursday.

The centre-right daily Sabah described the murder as "the assassination which shook Ankara". It said Mr Hablemitoglu had written a book on Islamist-inspired violence, which had attracted threats to his life, even though it had yet to be published. "I am sure they are listening to my phone. My life is in danger, too", he said in the book's preface, according to the paper.

Dark hands are again at work

Milliyet

But the centrist daily Hurriyet reported that, despite the threats, Mr Hablemitoglu had rejected any protection.

Another daily Milliyet said that the academic's wife, Sengul, had seen her husband's murderer and later consoled her daughters, saying: "Don't cry. Your father prepared you for this ending."

Motive speculation

The Turkish papers are also full of speculation about the possible motive behind the murder.

"Two bullets for the lecturer who knew too much ... dark hands are again at work," Milliyet said, also describing the killing as a "political assassination".

By contrast, Hurriyet came up with a range of speculative answers: it suggested that Mr Hablemitoglu's killing could be due to the conflict between secular and anti-secular forces within Turkish society.

"Are they trying to distance us from Europe?" it asked. "Could this be the work of mild anti-Islamists who are uneasy about the Western attitude of the Islamist governing party?"

Mr Hablemitoglu had recently been conducting research into the Islamic Fethullah Gulen organisation and on the activities of German foundations in Turkey.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

19 Dec 02 | Country profiles
16 Nov 02 | Europe
05 Dec 02 | Americas
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