You’d think that the Freedom of Speech war was already won

There are those who will point to Turkey and to their President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as being “moderate”.

This is the same Recep Tayyip Erdogan who proclaimed that, “These descriptions are very ugly, it is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.”

And so it is his “moderate” Islamic government that is arresting and imprisoning journalists.

More than 50 international media organisations have written to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressing deep concern about worsening conditions for journalists ahead of elections on Sunday (local time).

Agence France-Presse is among the signatories, which also include The Age in Australia,The New York Times, The Washington Post, Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung and ARD television, La Stampa in Italy, Dawn newspaper in Pakistan, and Buzzfeed.  

The editors of the organisations listed a series of incidents over the past two months that include attacks on the offices of the Hurriyet newspaper and the assault of a leading journalist, Ahmet Hakan Coskun, as well as the arrest and detention of journalists working for Vice News.

“We urge you to use your influence to ensure that journalists, whether Turkish citizens or members of the international press, are protected and allowed to do their work without hindrance,” they wrote to Erdogan.

They said the Turkish government’s “failure to support and to protect journalists” during the election process “is undermining the country’s international reputation and damaging its standing as a democracy”.

The organisations added: “We share widespread concerns that recent events are part of a concerted campaign to silence any opposition or criticism of the government in the run-up to the election.”

The editors also raised their concerns about the rise of “a culture of impunity” which deprived journalists of safeguards and said the government had failed to condemn attacks on journalists who are independent or critical.

We should listen to the words of leaders of “moderate” countries, especially when they are so overt about it.

Turkey has built a reputation over decades of being moderate, influenced by Europe, and when you visit places like Istanbul and Gallipoli and the like you certainly get that feeling, but lurking just under the surface is a return to the ways of the Ottomans, ways which the founder of the modern Turkish republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk worked so hard to eradicate.


– 3News

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