A rising wave of political violence - beatings, murders and armed clashes between students and extremists of the far left and right - has all but brought higher education to a standstill in Turkey and is threatening to disrupt the country's democratic institutions.
On Wednesday, a rightist student, Mustafa Erolun, died in the early hours of the morning when explosives were thrown into an Istanbul University dormitory. His coffin, wrapped in a Turkish flag, was carbried by students through blizzard swept streets the next day.
On Thursday, three youths were shot and wounded in the Aegean port of Izmir while handling out leftist, pamphlets. A week earlier, a student was killed and five others were wounded when "unidentified persons," according to the police report, opened fire as the students sougth to enter night classes at an Ankara school.
According to figures supplied by the Turkish news agency in Ankara, almost 200 people have been killed in politically motivated violence during the last two years. Most of them have been students, but innocent bystanders have been caught in the crossfire, too.
Few believe that these ideological clashes have reached the stage where the military might feel it necessary to intervene.
But everyone remembers that twice before, in 1960 and 1971, student violence was the prelude to military intervention. So far, the element of urban terror and the kidnapping and murders of foreigners that occured in 1970 are missing.
The current difficulties are more concerned with rival attempts to gain control of Turkey's technical schools and unversity campuses. They have become so politicized that few can remain open for an entire term. The classes also are affecting high schools, and non-political students are afraid to attend classes.
Ankara University's prestigious school of political science has been opened and closed more than half a dozen times this academic year because of student violence. Rightist controlled schools refuse to let students belonging to leftist organizations attend classes and vice versa.
Although perhaps as many as 90 per cent of Turkey's students would prefer to continue with their education, they are intimidated by the militants. "Even when the school is open the atmosphere is too tense to do any research and study," said Sedat Ergin. A student at Ankara's school of political science, "I have lost a whole year and I wish I was in a foreign country where I could really be a student."
On the left there is a broad spectrum of Marxists. Leninsts, Maoists and Communists who sometimes fight among themselves as well as against the right. The leftists say they are working to bring about social justice in a socialist Turkey. The rights say they are tyring to mobilize the youth of Turkey into the paths of "justice, morality, solidarity, liberty and discipline" and oppose the imperialism of both East and West. They believe in God and the Turkish nation, they say and it is their duty, to fight and political movements that contest these ideals.
The leftist coffee houses and meeting places bear posters of Che Guevara, militant Palestinians and one of their own martyrs, Zeki Erginbay - a student editor whom the leftists say was tortured and murdered by security forces in Istanbul last month. With their mustaches and old-fashions cloth caps. Turkish leftist students look like the portraits of early Bolsheviks.
The meeting places and headquarters of the extreme student rightists, the Idealist Hearth Association, are different. There, one sees posters of the near mythical warriors of the dim Turkish past capturing Constantinople (now Istanbul) from the Christians in the 16th century, and post cards showing the old hero Kur Sad breaking the chains of Chinese rule over the Turks of Central Asia 1,300 years ago.
The leftist student movememnt in Turkey grew powerful in the 1960's, much as leftist student movements grew in the United States and France then.
Rightist groups such as the Idealist Hearth were formed in the late 1960s to contest growing leftist control of the universities. They claim to follow one of Turkey's most important far rightist politicians - Deputy Premier Alpasian Turkes. The rightist students have formed "commando" units, complete with paramilitary summer camps in which they receive weapons and street-fighting training.
Turkes a former army officer, first got into trouble for his extreme Pan Turkish views in the 1940s, when he was arrested - but later acquited - for expounding a theory that Turkey should reunite all Turkish-speaking peoples, many of whom live in the Soviet Union and China.
He was a member of the military junta that seized powr in 1960 and hanged the then-premier, Adnan Menderes, but he soon fell out with most of his colleagues because he wanted to maintain the military dictatorship. They wanted to return power to elected officials.
He formed the National Action Party. Although it has only four seats in the 450-member Assemly. It is part of Premier Suleiman Demirel's rightist coalition.
Opposition leader Bulent Ecevit recently charged that the National Action Party through its youth organization, was directly involved in political violence and that Demirel "disregards the responsible source of political murder in order to remain in power."
Turkes called Ecevit a liar and replied that Ecevit's left-of-center party harbors "Communists and anarchists."
Few Turks seriously belive that liberal political technician Demirel advocates or condones political violence, but his Justice Party controls only 166 seats to Ecevit's 188 and Demirel depends on the three other rightist parties to maintain his coalition.
Turkes supporters are influential in the Ministry of Education and both leftists and liberals fear that this power is being used to influence higher education.
In a political climate also beset by serious inflation. Demirel must hold a general election this year. He is in trouble with his own party as well as his coalition partners.
There is a better than even chance that the elections will be in early June, since both Demirel and opposition leader Ecevit would like to get them over with as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, most observers fear that the student violence is likely to get worse rather than better, with all the attendant dangers of polarizing the society.