A court of appeals in Turkey has thrown out a fine against a cartoonist who depicted Prime Minister Reycip Erdogan as a horse. Sefer Selvi’s cartoon appeared in April 2004 and led to an approximately $7500 fine — although I admit I’m guessing on that latter fact, what with their being multiple Turkish currencies and my having a general conversion incompetence that usually only rears its ugly head whenever I buy DVDs from Hong Kong.
Erdogan has cases or threatened cases out against Musa Kart and Erdil Yasaroglu for animal-related cartoons they made that would be mild by US publishing standards but nonetheless honked off Erdogan. Erdogan’s habit of checking the press by lawsuit has come under fire throughout Europe as a potential issue that could keep Turkey from becoming a bigger economic partner with the West.
Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan boycotted a joint press conference with the Danish leader in protest at the presence of a Kurdish TV station on Tuesday (15 November), highlighting European values on free speech.
“There is a fundamental difference between Turkey and Denmark in matters of freedom of expression,” the Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said at the press conference his Turkish counterpart avoided.
The Turkish prime minister was visiting the Danish capital Copenhagen as the first stop in a tour around EU capitals to discuss the prospects of Turkey’s EU membership. Mr Erdogan stayed away from the press conference in protest at the presence of a journalist from the Danish-based TV channel Roj TV.
Turkey has repeatedly urged Denmark to close the channel, which sends news, entertainment, debate and children’s’ programs to Kurds in Denmark, arguing it is financed by the Kurdish rebel party, the PKK, which is on the EU’s list of terrorist organisations. Danish police are investigating the station, but have not found evidence of links to forbidden organisations so far.
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.