"Here, most intellectuals are in the Armed Forces. They have a lot better schools and regard themselves as the guardians of civilization, of democracy and of Turkey. And this, of course, is a danger for all those who want to turn Turkey into a religious state."
Celal Sengor is a geologist and professor at the Department of Geological Engineering at the Istanbul Technical University. Sengor is the only Turkish member of the prestigious American Philosophical Society. He owns, in his private house on the Asian shore of the Bosporus, one of the biggest geological libraries in the world with more than 30,000 books. He also writes weekly science columns in the Kemalist daily Cumhuriyet.
Sengor was serving in the air force, is well connected with the military and shares its mistrust of the intentions of the current government:
"The current government sees universities as places to be conquered. For their own people, with their own world view."
According to Sengor, AKP leaders are basically unqualified to lead the country:
"All the responsible leaders of the AKP come from the lower classes of society. And these lower classes do not live in modern cities, so they have no idea about modern urban life. They come from the slum districts of Istanbul. They do not have a good education. Most of them come from religious schools and many of them do not speak a foreign language."
Sengor strongly rejects both religion and the presence of women with headscarves at universities:
"When I have a girl in front of me with all the signs of Islam, how can I teach her about the history of our planet? I know that she does not want to believe it."
In January 2008 the daily Zaman accused Sengor of supporting possible military interventions to topple the government. He told us in July 2008:
"I have never said that. I only said that coups might become necessary at some stage in the life of a state. This is like a chirurgical operation."