By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor.
A nefarious, existential threat was recently vanquished by the post-coup censorship offices of Turkish President Erdoğan. No, it was not the PKK, nor ISIS, nor Fethullah Gülen. It was SpongeBob SquarePants and Smurfette, broadcast on a Kurdish Language children’s television network.
The media crackdown in the aftermath of the failed coup in Turkey has led to closures of dozens of news services and thousands of firings among journalists. Cartoon networks can now become labeled as seditious.
Apparently, SpongeBob’s cohort Squidward Tentacles nefariously slithered into the fabric of the state’s security apparatus and cunningly attempted to dismantle it from within. His ink: it sows discord by fueling the printing presses of subversives.
The Kurdish language was once considered a threat to Turkey, only having in the 1990’s permitted to be spoken without fear of arrest. Yet, to President Erdoğan, the Kurds–Turkey’s largest ethnic minority–present not only a convenient scapegoat but the target of attacks and denials of many human rights. The situation became worse since the failed coup months prior.
Zarok TV (Kid TV), the first Kurdish language children’s network, began last year providing several western children’s cartoons translated into the Kurdish. The station prided itself in not only providing entertainment for youngsters but also an avenue to preserve their mother tongue.
The government on September, 28th served a shutdown order on twenty-three television stations, including Zarok TV. The government claimed the children’s channel backed “separatist and subversive” activities in Turkey.
The network’s chief broadcast coordinator, Dilek Demiral, explained in an interview with al-Monitor that Kurdish Language television is often subjected to bans. But, he found these latest actions perplexing; the extent of how such bans now applie to children’s programing and also that the Higher Board of Radio and Television (RTUK), the government’s effective censorship board, issued no warning prior to the demand for closure.
Many Kurds and others having interest in the plight of liberty continue to be both confused and outspoken about human rights attacks increasingly becoming inherent within the government of our NATO ally. The censorship of childrens’ programming and cartoons show the paranoia surrounding an increasingly authoritarian neodictator.
It begs the question: who is the greatest threat to Turkey: SpongeBob, Papa Smurf, or that licentious harlot Smurfette?
By Darren Smith
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