Turkey: Olive grove of "Mathematics Village" destroyed by arson fire

Turkey: Olive grove of "Mathematics Village" destroyed by arson fire
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Two people who were recorded throwing a firecracker to start the fire have been detained only briefly, to be released soon later.

An olive grove that is part of a "Mathematics Village" in Turkey's western province of Izmir was devastated on Wednesday by a fire caused by arson.

The fire was started by two young people who were recorded by security cameras throwing a firecracker around noon to set the dry grass in the grove ablaze, said Ali Nesin, the director of the Nesin Foundation who owns the grove.

Two thirds of the 60-acre grove was destroyed in the fire.

Nesin added that the two suspects who were detained following the incident were later released.

He said:

"We had to labor a lot to plant all those sapling. When the banks refused to provide loans for the drip irrigation system, we did the work on our own, with the participation of over 50 students. It's bad enough that the grove has been destroyed by the arson, but it's worse to know that some people can actually do such things. We have learned that the arsonists are around 20 years old. I will not say that they did that because they were too young. No, they are old enough to know what's right and wrong. We did nothing wrong to these people."

The Nesin Mathematics Village, located near the village of Sirince in Selcuk district, is a campus where people of all ages can be enrolled and stay for a period of time to learn, reflect on and teach mathematics.

About half of the village's land consists of an olive grove. The students and teachers in the village stay in simple houses made of rock, straw and clay.

The village was founded by Turkish mathematician Ali Nesin, the son of internationally renowned author and humorist Aziz Nesin, who was one of the survivors of the "Sivas Massacre" in which 33 people were killed in a fire set by a mob of radical Islamists in July 1993.