Turkish Government Arrests 16-Year-Old Boy For Insulting Erdogan

1533782_1013750711972480_2898209863156174231_n220px-Recep_Tayyip_ErdoganThe rapid decline of civil liberties in Turkey continue this month under the expanding control of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his coalition of Islamic parties. The latest sign came with the arrest of Mehmet Emin Altunses, 16, who allegedly committed the crime of “insulting” Erdogan. That is what free speech has become in Turkey. It is a crime to write or say things insulting about Erdogan who is viewed around the world as a menacing clown destroying secularism and civil liberties in Turkey. Despite such moments as Erdogan’s calling people who use birth control “traitors” and saying Muslims discovered America, you are not allowed to be disrespectful or insulting in discussing Erdogan.

A court finally released the 16-year-old after repeated efforts of his family. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

Altunses had delivered a speech on Wednesday in Konya where he accused Erdogan and the ruling party of corruption. He described Erdogan as the “chief of theft, bribery and corruption.” Konya is a stronghold of the ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) and, with Erdogan, is pushing for the insertion of Islamic rules on every level of the government — once a bastion of secularism in the Muslim world.

Ahmet_Davutoglu_head_(cropped)Now in most governments, the political leaders would immediately express shame and regret at the arrest of a boy for speaking out against his government. However, this is at the Erdogan government which is increasingly demanding obedience from citizens and compliance with Islamic dictates. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (right) supported the arrest of the boy, saying: “Everyone must respect the office of president whoever he is.” That is, respect the leader as opposed to the principle of free speech. For Davultoglu, the free speech concerns are not even worth mentioning.

Notably, this is the same country that was working with the Obama Administration to create an international blasphemy standard. Fortunately, the efforts to create such a standard under former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton largely failed but the change in U.S. position in favor of such a standard is still be cited by advocates seeking to curtail free speech.

Turkey has long been one of my favorite places on Earth and I have long hoped that the country’s secular traditions would offer a lasting alternative to the Islamic and sharia-based systems in Muslims countries. I know many secular Muslims in Turkey and there continue to be brave individuals, like this teenager, who have risen to challenge the Erdogan government. It is telling that the first right that authoritarian governments attack remains free speech. Yet, that right is under attack even in the West. We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England ( here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech and non-discrimination laws. We have seen comedians targets with such court orders under this expanding and worrisome trend. (here and here).

Those resisting Erdogan’s effort to curtail free speech and freedom of religion are on the front lines of this struggle.


48 thoughts on “Turkish Government Arrests 16-Year-Old Boy For Insulting Erdogan”

  1. From Isaac: “Anyone who owns a gun should be verified by society to be of sane mind, free of a criminal past, and having reasonable and rational intentions”

    Who knows what someone else’s intentions are? Psychiatrists don’t. They cannot predict which of their patients will commit suicide or murder next week.
    How would anyone know if anyone else will go nuts tomorrow, commit a crime tomorrow, become unbearably angry tomorrow over being fired, being rejected, being abused by someone else? And what if someone went through a bad time in their life and received mental health treatment in the past – should they be denied gun ownership on that basis? Are you personally going to make that determination? Leave it to a judge? A psychologist? Someone who can be sued for making the wrong determination? What mechanism would you set up to make that determination?

  2. “I would think that even a baboon would understand that the 2nd amendment is the property of our society,”

    It’s not about the amendment but the INDIVIDUAL and COLLECTIVE, natural right of self-defense. The amendment is merely a barrier between government and an enlightened people. Through ignorance and apathy though, we are rapidly become no better than baboons.

  3. Regarding Turkey, and in the spirit of staying on topic, the country is a recently Westernized country (Gamal Ataturk-early 20th century) that was once the center of an Islamic Caliphate that was structured primarily along geo political lines. The Ottoman Empire was first a geo political empire that included the past of Byzantine Christianity and the Orthodox offshoots as well as Jews and other types. The political structure attempted to keep all types alive and working for the power of the empire first. This was an improvement on the preceding Byzantine Christian and European Christian empires that sought to take over the Middle East.

    One must differentiate between current leaders of a country in transition between centuries of religious dominance and less than a century of secular aspirations and the people. One can dream of dropping ‘blue ice’ on the people or work to support the democratic aspects while opposing the moves of the extremists.

    Erdogan may truly believe the stuff that he is coming up with and if he does and the majority of the population agrees then so be it. If, however, he is placating the extremist Islamic threat that borders Turkey then the culprit is Islamic extremists and not Turkey. Most of what he has done and said to date is harmless unless institutionalized. Freedom and opportunity for women in Turkey, legally and professionally, predated that of the US and Europe in many ways.

    The first move in dealing with someone you don’t agree with is to present them as inferior, perhaps inherently evil, or just demonize them. There is Turkey and there are the Turks.

  4. Olly

    I guess we do agree more or less. The main threat to America is the degree in which our complacency allows special interest groups to gain control. Plato recognized this thousands of years ago. Socrates stated as much with something like, “Those that don’t take part in democracy deserve the tyrants they get.” Or something to that effect. The perversion of the 2nd amendment by the NRA is due to the lack of quality in our leadership. That lack of quality is a result of voter complacency and ignorance. Tyranny is seen when even the politicians elected won’t do what their constituents demand for fear of the tyrant or oligarch. This can be seen in the polarization between anyone who advocates stricter gun controls and those that label them 2nd amendment haters.

    When one recedes so far in one direction so as to view reason and rational as a threat then the NRA has its supporter(s). Anyone who owns a gun should be verified by society to be of sane mind, free of a criminal past, and having reasonable and rational intentions. It seems that the 2nd amendment was devised by the founders of our society. I would think that even a baboon would understand that the 2nd amendment is the property of our society, and not some sacred dictate the likes of which we see in the Middle East perversely interpreted to mean whatever the local thug of the day wants it to mean.

    1. issac – would you like to explain exactly how the NRA is perverting the 2nd Amendment? They appear to be exactly in line with the Supreme Court.

  5. Olly, What of the great stupidity of 2nd Amendment haters is they also hate cops and the military. They seem to not be able to make the connection a baboon could make, that being their rants against citizens owning guns give their sworn enemies the monopoly on them. LOL!

  6. Turkey: Worse than a Pirate Territory. It is becoming more and more like the Third Reich. Henceforth, I will refer to it as the Fourth Reich and the Erdogan yerkoff as Himmler. Not Hitler. Hitler had more sense.
    It is long past time to kick Turkey out of NATO and put them on the itShay List of no trade, no tourism, no emigrants coming our way and Fly Over and Flush status.

  7. Isaac,
    The NRA has planted their flag in the 2nd Amendment and at the end of the day, the responsibility rests with the politicians AND their constituents.

    Pick your poison and you’ll find a lobbying firm willing to influence legislators to support it. The framers expected this and thanks to the 17th amendment, the corruption has become centrally located on K Street.

    I don’t blame anyone outside of government wanting their “special interest” protected; that’s our human nature. I blame those inside government without the courage to honor their oath of office AND the voters that reelect them.

  8. Olly

    Anyone who equates reigning in the NRA’s ability, with less than 5 million members but the bottomless pockets of the arms industry, with disarming citizens has been successfully duped by the propaganda.

    A few years ago almost all of the leaders of constituencies that were polled and found to be overwhelmingly in favor of tighter controls regarding the purchase of firearms, not abolishing gun ownership, voted against the demands of their constituents and against those desired tighter controls. This was graphically and entirely the result of threats by the NRA to ‘ruin’ any politician that voted for tighter gun regulations.

    So, pick your poison, special interest groups that can usurp our democracy or reasonable control over gun ownership. The NRA stands at no control. They marshal their forces and funding to threaten any politician who even listens to the majority who elected them.

    Something’s wrong here Olly. The founding fathers decided on democracy not oligarchy. Canadians have the right to own guns. They don’t even have to register them any more. Being Canadian and American, I know lots of sane Canadians and Americans without criminal pasts who own guns. The NRA is standing in the way of limiting gun ownership to responsible and sane citizens.

    So, Olly, would you like to see an America where the 2nd amendment protected the rights of sane, responsible, and criminal free gun ownership or would you like to see a small group of fanatics with unlimited funding purchase the representatives who are supposedly democratically elected?

  9. Digress away Spinelli

    The West has allied itself with the Ottoman Empire in the past to hold back Russian expansionism through the orthodox countries that were throwing off the shackles of Islam. Britain and France supported the Ottoman Empire against Greece’s attempts to throw off the chains of the Islamic overlords.

    The enemy of my enemy is my friend, regardless of who it is and what it does.

    Regardless of what my enemy does it can be spun into being a terrible thing.

    The people of France and Britain straightened out the perversity of their leaders who were playing their ‘Great Game’ of the time. It was Lord Byron and popular public opinion along with renegade British naval officers that forced their governments to recognize Greek independence.

    The people tell their representatives what to do, if they are educated and aware enough and not placated with cheap gas and big screen TVs. Vote against the laws that allow our oligarchy to continue. Vote against special interest groups like the NRA, and others both Republican and Democrat. Demand transparency in our governments. Don’t vote in idiots like Rubio and master criminals like Rick Scott. Come the revolution!!!!!!!!

  10. So Turkey has a top-down approach to eliminating free speech; ours is a bottom-up approach (free speech zones, IRS, etc.). Joe Wilson ring a bell? Scandalous! Whether it is the religious Right or secular Left, the motivation is the same; tyranny. Just keep pointing your finger and before you know it, you’ll lose those too.

  11. Nick said …

    I’m seeing more LCD lights on new autos. But, I digress.

    I wonder if it is my antiquity that makes me irritated by the plethora of LCDs on autos today? Used to be the sole province of over the road truckers down Oklahoma way….as decoration for mud flaps, visors, and running boards.

  12. Like despots of all stripes, from Muslim to atheists, it’s about control and power. This man wants to rule Turkey for life. He sees taking his country back to the Dark Ages as the way to do it. It’s really not very complicated when you break down its LCD, lowest common denominator. That acronym, LCD, has been taken over by lights. I’m seeing more LCD lights on new autos. But, I digress.

  13. Justice Holmes said …

    We could really use the money we pour into Turkey and other Middle East countries right here at home.

    Yes, we could. Speaking as a former “Fed” I admit to being astounded how we give away money, that we do not have, that we essentially have borrowed from the Chinese and ourselves to boot. We really don’t have that money. Not only can’t we balance a budget, in fact, in 6 years we have not had a formal Congressional budget. Using the prescient words of another commenter on another thread (Olly), this is the “grease” that funds corruption (CR’s are the grease)….in this case, even within our allies’ governments.

    Once I thought a Million dollars was a lot of money, then it became Billions, and now Trillions ($18 Trillion in national debt & counting now). Has the magnitude of this folly eliminated our sense of balance…that “real money” is no longer a value? That we can just loot ourselves and spend it like Monopoly money?

    At least back in the days when I was paid with Military Payment Certificates (MPC) that we joked about as not “real” money, the exchange rate was around 6% for dollars if rotating to CONUS, or about 15% on the local black market. What the flip is the “real” value of our dollar today?

    Footnote: I’m old, I’d still be delighted with a Million or two 🙂

  14. Turkey is right up there with North Korea, Russia, Pakistan, Syria, and Lebanon. Your not going to keep nukes out of the hands of the bad guys, so you have to keep the bad guys out of the country

  15. The US should stop giving Turkey money. We could really use the money we pour into Turkey and other Middle East countries right here at home.

    The scary thing is that many of OUR politicians look at the power this guy wields and think um. Maybe we should do that here. We will say it will protect us from terrorists!

  16. Turkey had so much potential – it is sad to see it choose the dark side.

    I still hope that the Turkish people will be able to hold off Erdogan’s destructive ways.

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