FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.

posted on 09 March 2016

Takeover Of Opposition Newspaper Is A Death Warrant For Free Speech In Turkey

from The Conversation

-- this post authored by Ahmet Erdi Ahmet Erdi Ozturk, University of Ljubljana

On Friday March 4, a Turkish court ruled that the country's biggest daily newspaper, Zaman, would be run by appointed trustees - ostensibly because of its so called "terrorist" activities, but more likely because the publication was linked to US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen, an opponent of the government.

Shortly after the court's decision, police stormed the paper's Istanbul headquarters in a dramatic midnight raid, firing tear gas and water cannon at the hundreds-strong crowd that formed outside.

The new administrative members dismissed the editor, executive editor and other senior staff, transforming the newspaper's editorial line, in less than 48 hours, from a rigorous opposition voice into a propaganda mouthpiece for the president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Full disclosure: I have written oped pieces for Zaman for the past two years or so - at a rate of about two or three per month. Never at any time was there any attempt to dictate my angle or censor my work, even when - as I did several times - I wrote articles that were critical of Gulen or his movement. Now I feel that the doors of this newspaper are closed - not only for me but also for most of the other academic writers who had used the paper as a vehicle for their opinions.

This episode has not come as a huge surprise to anyone who has been following Turkey's political scene. While Erdogan and his AKP party enjoyed close relations with Gulen and his Hizmet educational and religious movement when the party first emerged - and observers believe that Hizmet used his enormous popularity to help Erdogan secure his first term as prime minister in 2002 - things have gone bad between them since 2013.

In 2013 the Turkish judiciary, thought to contain Gülen supporters in senior positions, launched an extensive corruption investigation into Erdogan's inner circle, prompting Erdogan to accuse Hizmet of trying to launch a civil coup d'état. Since then, Erdogan has repeatedly accused Gülen of establishing a "parallel structure" within the state by placing his followers in institutions such as the judiciary and the police, and of exerting strong influence through his media. Hizmet has been labelled a "terrorist organisation".

Fragile freedoms

Zaman is not the first Turkish newspaper to suffer repression under the present administration. Cumhuriyet - another prominent opposition publication - fell foul of the authorities last year. Editor-in-chief, Can Dündar, and the paper's Ankara bureau chief, Erdem Gül, were detained in November over a report alleging that Erdogan's government tried to ship arms to Islamists in Syria.

When this story appeared, an angry Erdogan threatened them with criminal libel for "targeting state interests by using images contrary to facts". The pair were jailed pending trial at the end of March. But on February 26, Turkey's Constitutional Court ruled that their civil rights had been violated and they were released - although they still face trial.

The court's decision was greeted with joy by a great many Turkish citizens and international rights organisations, such as International Press Freedom Group. But Erdogan criticised the decision, declaring that:

I keep silent [on] the decision of the Constitutional Court but do not abide by the decision. In my opinion [the] media should not have unlimited freedom. There is no absolute freedom anywhere in the world media as well.

He added: "I need to repeat that this case is not linked to freedom of expression whatsoever... This is an espionage case."

Welcome to 'Erdoganistan'

Free speech certainly is under attack in Erdogan's Turkey. Nearly 2,000 journalists, bloggers and ordinary citizens - including high school students - have been prosecuted or are facing charges on accusations of insulting Erdogan. Additionally, police detained 27 academics over what was referred to as "terror propaganda". Their crime was to sign a petition - with more than 1,400 others - calling for an end to Turkey's "deliberate massacre and deportation of Kurdish people" in south-east Anatolia.

A German edition of Zaman is still being printed. EPA/Bernd von Jutrczenka

With the transformation of Zaman into a government mouthpiece, free speech has become even more of an endangered species in Turkey as journalists are jailed or harassed, websites blocked, media outlets closed down or taken over. The Freedom House report on press freedom for 2015 showed Turkey firmly in the "not free" camp - and henceforth it will be difficult to trust what you read or hear in Turkey's press. This will have knock-on political effects - it's hard to imagine anyone being able to build a successful election campaign to unseat Erdogan and his AKP if this situation continues.

It's a death warrant for Turkish democracy. The country, once an emerging pluralistic democracy, is becoming one man's patriarchal realm. Welcome to "Erdoganistan".

The ConversationAhmet Erdi fiztürk, PhD Candidate/Research Asistant, University of Ljubljana

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<

Click here for Historical Opinion Post Listing

Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted.  As the internet is a "war zone" of trolls, hackers and spammers - Econintersect must balance its defences against ease of commenting.  We have joined with Livefyre to manage our comment streams.

To comment, using Livefyre just click the "Sign In" button at the top-left corner of the comment box below. You can create a commenting account using your favorite social network such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or Open ID - or open a Livefyre account using your email address.

You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.

Econintersect Opinion


Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF

The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.

Take a look at what is going on inside of
Main Home
Analysis Blog
Run A High Pressure Economy? Janet Yellen Does Not Understand the Problem
Comments on Feyerabend’s ‘Against Method’, Part III
News Blog
Inside The Machine: How Two Nobel Winners Taught Us How Companies Tick
Healthcare's Dirty Little Secret: Results From Many Clinical Trials Are Unreliable
The Cleveland Indian's Unique Use Of Andrew Miller
What We Read Today 26 October 2016
Why Do So Many Price Tags End In .99
September 2016 New Home Sales Improve.
Higher GDP Growth In The Long Run Requires Higher Productivity Growth
Quantum Encryption Is Secure Because Information Encoded In A Quantum Particle Is Destroyed As Soon As It Is Measured
The Stock Market Is Up, But Mutual Fund Investors Are Fleeing
Infographic Of The Day: Google's Hidden Games
Early Headlines: Asia Srocks Mostly Lower, Energy HY Bonds Surge, Google Fiber Cutback, Shadow Banks Dominate Mortgages, NATO Crowds Russia, Coffee Surges And More
Top 10 American Misconceptions about China (Version 3)
Documentary Of The Week: Job Buffers Are More Efficient Than Unemployment Buffers
Investing Blog
Apple's First Annual Sales Decline In 15 Years
Cycle Transition Is In Question
Opinion Blog
What Triggers Collapse?
The Beer Goggles Stock Market
Precious Metals Blog
Inflation Surging As Platinum Signals Stock Market Decline
Live Markets
26Oct2016 Market Close: US Markets Close Lower, Boeing Shares Up, Texas Tea Stabilizes In Low 49's, Gold Falls To 1266, Friday's Fed Rate Change Promises To Be A Game Changer
Amazon Books & More

.... and keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Middle East / Africa
USA Government

Crowdfunding ....



Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day


Asia / Pacific
Middle East / Africa
USA Government

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution



  Top Economics Site Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2016 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved