Remember Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s outrage over the appearance of Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu at the Paris march for free speech? It seems a rather bizarre scene for a man who had led to one of the greatest rollbacks on free speech and press freedom in Turkey’s history as part of his insertion of Islamic fundamentalism into the once secular state. The irony only grew today after a Turkish court banned websites from show this cover of Charlie Hebdo’s magazine following the massacre of its editors and staff by Muslim extremists.
The order was issued out of the southeastern city of Diyarbakir after a lawyer reportedly filed a petition saying the four sites were a danger to “public order.” It is particularly distressing to see Muslim lawyers joining the mob in denying basic freedoms in the name of their faith.
The primary target was a secular newspaper that was going to print four pages of cartoons in solidarity with their French counterparts. It was a brave act to do in a Muslim country but this lawyer and the court soon intervened to show that intolerance and religious orthodoxy controls in the new Turkey.
Notably, one target did not have the cartoons but did include small, black-and-white images of the cover as their column headers in Wednesday’s issue. The police in their review of the Cumhuriyet magazine appear to have missed those inclusions in allowing the trucks of that publication to roll out of the facility.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the columnists’ use of the cover image escaped the attention of police.
In the meantime, Ergogan’s government took little time in denouncing free speech as he returned from marching in support of it: Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan called the use of the prophet’s image on the magazine an act of “sedition and provocation.”