Tag Archives: Censorship

Turkey journalists face 4.5 years jail over Charlie Hebdo cartoon



Turkish prosecutors on Wednesday called for two prominent journalists who featured Charlie Hebdo’s cover with the image of the Prophet Mohammed in their columns to be jailed for four and a half years.

Istanbul’s chief public prosecutor has charged Ceyda Karan and Hikmet Cetinkaya with “inciting public hatred” and “insulting religious values” by illustrating their columns with the cartoon, the Hurriyet daily reported.

The cartoon was a smaller version of the controversial front cover depicting the Prophet Mohammed that French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo printed in its first edition after the attack on its offices by Islamist gunmen in January that killed 12 people.

The cartoon angered Muslims all over the world and most media in overwhelmingly Muslim Turkey refrained from publishing it.

Turkish daily Cumhuriyet on January 14 had published a four-page Charlie Hebdo pull-out translated into Turkish marking the French satirical weekly’s first issue since the attack.

The edition did not include the controversial front cover of the Prophet Mohammed but a smaller version of the cartoon was included twice inside the newspaper to illustrate columns on the subject by Karan and Cetinkaya.


Prosecutors had announced the day after the publication of the issue that they had opened an investigation into the two columnists.

The case, based on a 38-page indictment and complaints by 1,280 individuals, has now been submitted to the criminal court ahead of trial, Hurriyet said.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had condemned the publication of cartoons of the Muslim prophet as an “open provocation”, warning that Turkey would not tolerate insults against Mohammed.

There has been growing concern about the numbers of journalists currently facing legal proceedings in Turkey, many on accusations of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Cumhuriyet daily, which sees itself as the voice of secular Turkey, is a vehement opponent of the Islamic-rooted authorities under Erdogan.


Obama BFF #Turkey: Twitter and YouTube blocked

ISTANBUL – Access to Twitter and video-sharing website YouTube were blocked in Turkey on Monday following a court decision based on complaints from individuals, a source in Turkey’s telecoms industry said.

Turkey temporarily blocked Twitter and YouTube in the run-up to local elections in March 2014, after audio recordings purportedly showing corruption in the inner circle of Tayyip Erdogan, then the prime minister and now the president, were leaked on their sites. That decision caused a public uproar and drew heavy international criticism.

Scenes from hostage situation in Istanbul were quickly broadcast on social media sites (Photo: Reuters)
Scenes from hostage situation in Istanbul were quickly broadcast on social media sites (Photo: Reuters)


Turkey’s telecoms regulator could not immediately be reached for comment and there was no statement on its website.

The blocks come less than a week after an Istanbul prosecutor died after security forces stormed the office where members of a far-left group had taken him hostage.

Several Turkish newspapers said that the blocks came after photos of the prosecutor being held at gunpoint were circulated on social media while the siege was ongoing.

“This has to do with the publishing of the prosecutor’s picture. What happened in the aftermath (of the prosecutor’s killing) is as grim as the incident itself,” presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said.

Turkey filed over five times more content removal requests to Twitter than any other country in the second half of 2014, data published in February by the micro-blogging site showed.

Last year, Turkey tightened laws allowing sites to be blocked by the authorities more easily.



Obama BFF Turkey Blocks 68,000 ‘Blasphemous’ Websites, Including Charlie Hebdo

The number of websites blocked in Turkey is approaching 68,000 with the recent addition of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s official site, as well as specific pages from the country’s most popular Internet forums.

The latest bans came after the government appealed to a local court, citing blasphemy laws. The Feb. 27 ruling of the Ankara Gölbaşı Civil Court of Peace came soon after the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB), a government body, filed a criminal complaint.

The ruling imposes a blanket ban on the websites of Charlie Hebdo and Turkey’s first atheism association, while blocking individual pages of Ekşi Sözlük (Sour Dictionary) and İnci Sözlük (Pearl Dictionary), two hugely popular forums, as well as pages on news website T24, which recently published the controversial Charlie Hebdo cartoons.

The court imposed sanctions on a total of 49 websites, ruling that they “humiliated the religious values of the people.”

In its criminal complaint, the TİB claimed that “insults against religious and holy values could breach public peace.” It enforced the court’s ruling for many of the targeted websites on March 3, although it acted quicker for a number of others.

Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Code stipulates prison sentences for blasphemy, as well as “provoking the people for hate and enmity or degrading them.” Linguist Sevan Nişanyan was sentenced in May 2013 to 13.5 months in prison for a blog post and world-renowned pianist Fazıl Say was sentenced to 10 months in jail for a tweet, both for violating Article 216.

Atheism Association Spokesperson Onur Romano issued a statement on March 3, inviting people to visit ateizmdernegi.org or ateizmdernegi.org.tr, two mirror domains that are still accessible in Turkey.

“They haven’t told us what exactly we did wrong according to the law. Please take a look and tell us what we did wrong,” Romano said.

67,600 and counting

Although it is the first digital ban targeting the Atheism Association, which is less than a year old, other “convicts” have previously experienced similar sanctions.

Ekşi Sözlük and İnci Sözlük, two online dictionaries in which any user can send not-always-objective-nor-factual entries, have been routinely targeted by Turkish authorities. Ekşi Sözlük was blocked in 2007 and İnci Sözlük in 2011.

Certain pages of Charlie Hebdo’s website, on the other hand, had been blocked in Turkey for hosting Prophet Muhammad cartoons on Jan. 14, soon after 12 of its employees were murdered at the magazine’s headquarters in Paris.

More than 67,600 websites are currently blocked in Turkey, according to the independent monitoring website, Engelli Web.

In 2014, the TİB blocked 22,645 websites without a court order, according to the Human Rights Association’s (İHD) latest report citing Engelli Web.

Since Ankara imposed or threatened to impose blanket bans on Facebook and Twitter, both social media platforms have been complying with the requests of Turkish officials to remove or withhold controversial content, whether or not there is a court ruling.