Do 44 honorary doctorates make a diploma for Erdoğan?


President Erdoğan received yet another honorary doctorate degree from a university in Uganda. Now he has 44 honorary doctorate degrees, but his bachelor degree is disputed, which might make his presidency illegal

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been given another honorary doctorate, this time in Uganda, while his bachelor diploma’s authenticity is being debated widely in Turkey. His honorary doctoral degrees reached 44 from various countries with this one, according to media reports.

During the president’s trip to Uganda, he was yesterday (June 1) awarded the degree by the Makerere University of Kampala.

Honorary doctorates are usually awarded in appreciation of figures who, on some level, are considered to contribute considerably to a specific area or to society. Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Queen Elizabeth II, Hilary Clinton, Michelle Obama and Muhammad Ali have all received honorary degrees in the past. There are also some who were awarded degrees that were later retracted, such as British TV presenter Jimmy Savile, who was found after death to have assaulted hundreds of young girls, and violent dictators Colonel Gaddafi and Robert Mugabe.

At the same time for example US President Barrack Obama has 6 honorary degrees, renown Prof. Stephen Hawking has 12 degrees.

In any case Erdoğan having 44 honorary degrees is quite eye catching. Approximately more than half of them are given to him by Turkish universities. Abroad universities include: Kiev University, Crimea University, Waseda University, European University of Madrid and St. John University.

The honorary doctorate in St. John University has some speculations on it. The dean of the school Cecilia Chang has committed suicide in her first day of a trial where she was accused of corruption. Allegations also include accepting 300K USD donation by Turkey in exchange of a honorary law doctorate to Erdoğan in 2004. According to Cumhuriyet daily neither university nor the lawyers of Cheng responded to the allegations.

Forty-four honorary doctorates, however, is quite interesting given the fact the bachelor diploma of Erdoğan is being questioned in Turkey. According to the Turkish constitution candidates should have completed their higher education in order to be able to run for the office of presidency.

Erdoğan’s resume on the presidency webpage says “He received his graduation diploma from Marmara University’s  Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences in 1981”. Nonetheless there were reports that his bachelor diploma is also fake, claiming that he has never graduated form there.

Birgün daily says the Marmara University online archive records shut down before Erdoğan elected as president in 2014. Archives were oped due to complaints, but no diploma has been found listed under the name of Erdoğan.

Recently debates surrounding his graduation started to increase. Last 3 days hashtags became trending in Twitter with online activism campaigns started by the user @TheALKIM. On May 31 #DiplomasıDaSahte (His diploma is also fake), on June 1 #HaniMişDiploma (Where is the diploma), on June 2 #YaDiplomaYaİstifa (Either [show the] diploma or resign!) became trending in Turkey and in world lists.

Journalist Murat Aksoy was saying on Twitter that every honorary doctorate degree Mr. President is receiving, keeping these debates on his diploma alive.

In fact one Twitter user posed a question: “Do 44 honorary degrees make an authentic (university) diploma?”