Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan basically called President Barack Obama a liar this week after Obama said that he spoke to Erdogan about his concerns with the crackdown on journalists in Turkey. Erdogan said it never happened and accused Obama of essentially speaking behind his back. As we discussed last week, Erdogan has moved beyond his arresting of critics in Turkey to seeking the prosecution or censorship of any critics abroad. His comments further reflect his authoritarian definition of free speech as speech that by definition excludes any criticism of him.
We have seen the erosion of liberties in Turkey after the election of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his coalition of Islamic parties. Just last month, we discussed the arrest of Mehmet Emin Altunses, 16, who allegedly committed the crime of “insulting” Erdoğan. calling people who use birth control “traitors” and saying Muslims discovered America, you are not allowed to be disrespectful or insulting in discussing Erdoğan. Then there was the prosecution of model and former Miss Turkey Merve Buyuksarac, 26, for criticizing Erdogan for quoting a few lines from a poem called the “Master’s Poem” from weekly Turkish satirical magazine Uykusuz. Erdoğan’s totalitarian measures have earned him the nickname “Buyuk Usta” (the Big Master). Even a joking reference to Gollum and Erdoğan is enough to land you in jail today in Turkey.
Obama was, if anything too restrained, in telling the media last Friday that he was troubled by curbs on the press in Turkey and said he had urged Erdogan not to repress democratic debate in his country. Erdogan said that the conversation never happened and added “I was saddened to hear that statement made behind my back. During my talk with Obama, those issues did not come up.”
What comes out of the statement is exactly how paranoid Erdogan has become where he now does not even spare the President of the United States from his attacks for criticizing his increasingly tyrannical rule. What is particularly chilling was his Erdogan’s view of free speech: “You cannot consider insults and threats press freedom or criticism.” It is an insight into the moronic understanding of free speech and free press by Erdogan that it excludes “insults” which he means criticism of him or his policies. There is a raging debate whether Erdogan is remarkably thick or whether he knows that this is nonsense and simply wants dictatorial powers. Either way he is a danger to civil liberties in Turkey and increasingly abroad.
Notably, he has added paranoia to his authoritarian aspirations. His government now routinely refers to a “mastermind” in the West that is undermining him with all this talk of civil liberties and abused. He warned that critics seek to “divide, shatter and if they could, swallow up Turkey. This is what I mean by mastermind. A mastermind is playing games over Turkey.”
15 thoughts on “Turkish President Denounces Obama For Criticizing Him On His Crackdown on Free Press And Suggests President Lied About Meeting”
Do we really need that base in Turkey?
God help us all, the future doesn’t look any brighter.
Well Obama may be a liar in other areas, but in this one he was not lying, Erdogan is doing exactly what Obama criticized him about.
Erdogan has been open and honest (dictatorial YES) about his crackdown on free speech. What in the world would he have to gain by lying about the conversation between he and Obama? What is more likely, Obama called to give Erdogan advice on democracy and civil liberties, or did he call to give him advice on how to be less transparent in his authoritarianism?
I’m going with the latter.
Looks like Obama’s buddy is turning on him. As he becomes more of a lame duck he will have few friends. Maybe his new pretty boy French Canadian dude will stick w/ him.
Madness, takes its toll…
Erdogan was considering Obamacare for all Turks. Not the Kurds. Now is going to call it CanadaCare. He thought about calling it TurkeyCare but felt it would be confusing to birds.
Commentary on Pres. Obama’s integrity that even a crackpot like Erdogan has the credibility to challenge Obama’s statements.
If he wants to attack President Obama, he should have said that the US and Israel provide him with weapons and order him to pass those weapons on to the Islamic State.
Are Turkish citizens, or folks dumb enough to visit, entitled to a full panoply of civil liberties? Who is entitled to such liberties? Let us go a few territories over for a more clear example of where civil liberties can not be guaranteed: Yemen. There are many who are terrorists or pirates. A pirate ship may bring in a boat seized out at sea and keep it at a dock in Yemen and hold it for ransom. The government does not seem capable of reigning this in. Are the pirates entitled to the full panoply of civil liberties? Are terrorists who have free reign out in the countryside entitled to a full range while out on the range?
Go a step up or two and you are in the Turkey territory. It has many trappings of a civilized nation state and is much better than Yemen. Yet, how can the leader keep power if some terrorists like ISIS start a revolution? Look to Syria. Are we going to be better off worldwide if Assad is gone? Do we need dictators in these pirate territories?
France might be asking itself some of the same questions. Belgians might be asking themselves if their migrant communities need to be controlled better.
The next time I go to Brussels I think I will fly into Amsterdam and take the train down and over and not try to fly into Brussels. Or maybe fly into London and make my way by sea and land. And next time I oo to New York I will not stay near Al Sharpton’s neighborhood. And when I go to Saint Louis I will avoid Ladue.
Many of the commenters here are as crazy as Ergodan.
Erdogan is probably right. Obama just made it up. He has done it before but sadly the MSM never calls him on it.
My thoughts exactly about Obama lying. Meanwhile, maybe the Turkish Press could embed with their American counterparts and learn how to properly suck up to their leader and keep him from criticism.
Well, Erdogan may be as crazy as a bedbug, but he’s correct about one thing: Obama is a pathological liar.
Paranoid is too kind a word Professor Turley to describe this maniac. He will lose the Kurds to an independent Kurdistan and he will more than likely be faced with a coup despite having decimated the Officer Corp.
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