Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Assault on Turkish Journalists Continues

Istanbul-based writer Suzy Hansen writes about the continuing assault on Turkish journalists and the AKP's quieter method of censoring critical journalists:

"Countless journalists can tell stories about late-night phone calls and terrified newspaper owners—corporate conglomerate bigwigs—who must please the prime minister in order to salvage business contracts unrelated to their journalistic enterprises. By now, journalists know well how to censor themselves: Don’t overly criticize the Prime Minister; don’t question the police; don’t write about the cemaat, or the community, the Turkish Islamic Gulen Movement.

Freedom of speech has never fared very well in Turkey, a fiercely nationalist and often-authoritarian country. Numerous laws in the penal code can still be used to attack speech, including one that allows the prime minister to sue someone for “insulting” him. It’s easy to sue or arrest just about anyone (usually Kurds) for “inciting hatred” or supporting terror with the printed word. The AKP, the most powerful party in Turkey’s history, has expressed little interest in changing these national traditions.

The more troubling question is why Erdoğan feels he needs to trample on journalists at all. The AKP has no credible political opposition, and more or less controls the judiciary system and the military. The businessmen love Erdoğan for making them rich, and he bullies them if they don’t. So why the thin skin over some newspaper columns?"

To read the rest of the article please visit the website of The New Republic.