The decline of free speech around the world is accelerating at such a rate that it can produce truly disorienting effects. Take the latest lawsuit by the Turkish Chess Federation (TSF). Chess players were the target of an Islamic extremist televangelist who told Muslims that playing chess is more sinful than gambling. It was yet another absurd declaration from a religious fanatic that should be answered with mocking disbelief. Instead, TSF moved from being a victim to being a violator with a lawsuit against Ahmet Mahmut Ünlü, popularly known as “Cübbeli Ahmet Hoca” (Robbed Ahmet Hoca). The group reportedly began “legal proceedings” over the comments, which should be protected as an exercise of free speech.
Various media outlets quotes Ünlü of stating that chess players were “cursed” and that “most people who played chess are liars.” He added that “Playing chess is worse than gambling and eating pork … People who play chess are more prone to lying than others. People who play chess may not say the shahada [declaration of Islamic belief] while they are dying.”
The TSF appears to have turned to the courts to enforce its view of the truth rather than rely on free speech to answer the ridiculous charges. If true, it is a disappointing example of one person trying to coerce neighbors into silence that is met by a legal action attempting to do the same thing.