Erdogan, no champion of free speeech

The owner of a satirical magazine sued for publishing drawings of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s head on the bodies of animals accused the premier of intolerance on the opening day of his trial Tuesday.

Erdogan has done things like this for a while now, but I haven’t seen any mention of it in the western media. I only learned of it because I read The Comics Reporter by Tom Spurgeon.

This is of course not the only thing wrong with Turkish democracy. They’ve made significant progress in the last years, but it’s not certain they’ll be sufficiently democratic in a decade or whenever negotions will end.

Erdogan has in the past presented himself as a champion of free speech, frequently alluding to the four-month jail term he served in 1999 for reciting what the courts deemed an inflammatory poem.

Last year a court also ordered the left-wing newspaper Evrensel to pay 10,000 new Turkish lira (US$8,000/-6,000) for a cartoon which portrayed Erdogan as a horse being ridden by one of his advisers.

Earlier this year, he sued an 80-year old veteran journalist Fikret Otyam who criticized government attempts to criminalize adultery by saying the premier had reduced politics to the “level of the crotch,” seeking 5,000 new Turkish lira (US$3,200/-2,850) in compensation.

2 thoughts on “Erdogan, no champion of free speeech

  1. David, you are obviously right, and here ther are no guarantees: but using your yardstick, how would you evaluate Berlusconi’s Italy?

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