Turkey Prosecutes French Journalists For Cartoon Mocking Erdogan

In 2015, I wrote a Washington Post column criticizing the world leaders who marched for free speech and the free press after the massacre of editors with from the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, particularly the vehemently anti-free speech and anti-free press president of Turkey Recep Tavyip Erdogan. The editors were murdered because the magazine published a cartoon of Mohammad. Seeing the authoritarian Erdogan at the front of the march was the ultimate mocking of these deaths and proof that world leaders cared little for these rights or the 12 dead. Not only did Erdogan’s government follow the march by prosecuting a cartoonist, but now it is seeking long prison sentences for four Hebdo journalists for a cartoon mocking Erdogan.

Erdogan’s authoritarian impulse is only matched by his vanity and sensitivity to criticism.  In this case, Hebdo published a cartoon last year depicting Erdogan looking up a woman’s skirt while drinking beer in his underwear and saying “Ooh, the Prophet.” His government is now seeking four-year sentences.

The four journalists have been identified as cartoonist Alice Petit and three managers of the famous magazine — Gerard Biard, Julien Serignac and Laurent Sourisseau. They are charged with the crime of publishing an image that is  “vulgar, obscene and insulting.” Such publications, even cartoons, are deemed exceptions to free speech or the free press by Erdogan’s government — an exception that obviously swallows both rights.

We have followed the rapid destruction of the secular government and civil liberties in Turkey under the authoritarian rule of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan used a failed coup to push his effort to create a de facto Islamic regime and to complete his work in arresting his critics, including forcing the resignation of thousands of secular academics, and suspending all civil liberties in a proclaimed state of emergency.

While he has been embraced as an ally, Erdogan opposes the core rights that define our nation. Unfortunately, since the 2015 massacre, many in the United States have move closer to Erdogan’s view of free speech and the free press in calling for greater censorship and speech regulation. Indeed, leading academics had the integrity recently to declare that they believe that “China is right” about censorship.

This prosecution is the true face of not just Erdogan but the growing movement against free speech.

49 thoughts on “Turkey Prosecutes French Journalists For Cartoon Mocking Erdogan”

  1. “. . . suspending all civil liberties in a proclaimed state of emergency.”

    That sounds familiar.

  2. A pretty disheartening development or more accurately a result from a more pedestrian vantage point, I nor you can no longer sit and enjoy the zany conspiracy movies made by Bill Kaysing, explaining to us how the Apollo missions were faked in a hanger in Arizona, (close to where he resides in a compound of abandoned trailers with about 100 cats, …not that there’s anything wrong with that….) by Stanley Kubrick. In fact all the “we didn’t go” videos are now scrubbed entirely from YouTube. Now I admit that most have long since debunked, (can you see the stars when the sun shines ,…. duh) and many of the claims were laughable, but a few made you pause for a moment and say “hmmm:”, …just for a moment perhaps but still they did provide a fun binge watch on a Saturday night debunking them as you go for sport. I enjoy stuff like this. I remember back in the 70s, Dave Foxx from WPGC radio did a show on “Is Paul Dead”, dealing with the conspiracy theory about Paul McCartney being dead and the album Abbey Road offering breadcrumb clues to the observant viewer.. He played some spooky music and pointed out some of the spooky signs like Paul being the only barefoot one (something about being shoeless being symbolic of a corpse) and we ate it up. We didn’t go out and fret it and never really bought it but it was fun to listen to and consider and you know …think about it for ourselves for a while. I even admit to looking at the Flat Earthers website, although not without constant random bursts of uncontrollable laughter. And who doesn’t love a good episode of “Chariots of the Gods”? Did visiting aliens help build the ancient pyramids? Dunno, wasn’t there. Archeological evidence says probably not but none of that answers some of the mysteries they find, like the animal drawings that can only be seen from the sky, apparent runways in Peru, statues of what appear to be space suited astronauts, etc. Can and does it have other interpretations? Sure. But the fact is on much of it, the juries still out. And that’s what makes it fun to think about. And some of these more extreme theories aren’t for fun, but they represent important things. Like the original findings on 911 such as heat and structural findings that were later contradicted to come up with a more official narrative. Issues with the Boston marathon attacks and Sandyhook (why were a bunch of camo garbed “off duty” police from a neighboring district, running away from police and hiding in the woods until finally being captured on live helicopter news cam footage and surrendering, handcuffed, placed in the back of squadcars then later released and never interviewed, identified or questioned? I’m sure its nothing. I’m sure there’s a logical answer. But that answer being never made public is now even more begging. After all with the Kaysing videos now scrubbed, there’s no way any of these conspiracy videos, many not even making conclusions but merely presenting questions along with footage, would be allowed and they’re not. They’re all gone. There were some good ones out there. Asking hard questions that were never actually answered about many things we see in our country and world. All gone now. Suddenly, the only things you can find on any of these topics, are videos reflecting the “approved” narratives. I was born into a land of Free Speech and the free exchange of ideas and knowledge. Now suddenly I wake up, and we live in a country where only the information that is determined by hidden “fact checkers” to be “safe” for me to hear is allowed. All the rest is censored. You’re a champion of free speech Professor. I hope you address this kind of thing from a legal perspective and fight it as you’re one of the few who have the ability to do so. I don’t need to see videos questioning whether we went to the moon. But I do need to “be able”, to see those videos.

    1. I agree. I don’t want Jack Dorsey and Eric Schmidt telling me what I can and can’t see. We all know how that works.

    2. “… apparent runways in Peru…”

      Ha – I remember that one. Turns out the “runways” were about 50′ long…

      That’s one case where size actually matters!

      You are, however, completely wrong about ALL of the conspiracy theory videos being scrubbed. There’s a big conspiracy theory that the recent election was actually valid – presented without any proof whatsoever that the hundreds of thousands of unverifiable ballots (there is no way to prove they came from legitimate voters precisely because State election laws were intentionally broken) which did in fact alter the election outcome came from honest-to-goodness eligible voters. So, the conspiracy theory goes, we should accept their proclaimed results “because they say it is so.”

      There are plenty of videos out there promoting this conspiracy theory, mostly having Orwellian words like “debunked” in their titles.

    3. yeah except we did go to the moon.

      stick to some conspiracies with real evidence to support them.

      here’s my conspiracy of the week. how the FBI ran mafia deep cover informant Greg “Grim Reaper” Scarpa for decades allowing if not helping him commit many murders

      the gossip coming from two made men in his former gang, was that greg scarpa went down to alabama and, at the request of FBI, tortured a klansman who knew where the slain civil rights workers were hidden

      didn’t know FBI worked with mafia goons to do “investigations”?/?? Well now you do

      greg “the grim reaper” scarpa– was “handled” by former FBI agent Lindley DeVecchio

      Sal Sar

  3. Even though this describes Biden and the entire ecosystem around him to. a T, less informed or lazy folks will immediately think, yep, just like Trump. Trump. Trump. TRUMP. Trumpity- trump trump.

    It’s an endless loop that plays all the time in the back of their minds; it’s the modern day equivalent of blaming Daddy. Hearing some literal truth absolutely broke some people’s, that cling to their bubbles, psyches. Shattered. I’ve decided that those so inclined were always so, it was just less obvious with better pretense. The threat of actual, positive change is a tremendous existential threat to folks that constantly live in such fear of a loss of control, just as in this situation overseas.

    I think at some point the Professor may very well get his ‘Turkish Spring’.

  4. Is there a big difference between Erdogan and the direction the Biden administration is taking?

    1. It’s interesting how the regulars here feel compelled to hijack every one of Turley’s topics to vent their hatred of Joe Biden. They are obsessed. He’s living in their heads rent free. It’s Biden Derangement Syndrome. This particular poster’s lack of self-awareness and desperate need for validation is always good for a few chuckles, though, especially when he classifies his off-topic links and throwaway comments like this one as “content”.

      1. Brad, do you not think that there are some similarities? Is the freedom of speech for all the same as it was? Is the White House surrounded by troops? I am talking about the direction of the country. “Is there a big difference between Erdogan and the direction the Biden administration is taking?

        Do you honestly believe Biden demonstrates no signs of demential?

        When you talk about self-awareness, do you listen to what you sound like?

    2. “Is there a big difference between Erdogan and the direction the Biden administration is taking?”

      Erdogan is a Muslim. Biden is a Leftist. Different religious cults.

      1. “Erdogan is a Muslim. Biden is a Leftist. Different religious cults.”

        Right now they are closely entwined.

        The direction is absolute power. Do you dispute that?

  5. I’m ottoman the eighth I am!
    I live like a Turk in garbage can.
    I kill humans who need to go.
    I’m the one who always knows.

  6. Look Jon, you are a citizen of the United States, not Turkey. What other countries do is up to their citizens, not us. The First Amendment only applies to the United States (and Democrats are wanting to do away with it.) What Turkey does is their business, and they’ve been doing whatever they want for centuries.

  7. Based on the slimmest of majorities in a highly contested election, the left truly believe they have a mandate for a dictatorship of the woke. It’s no surprise that the party of sanctuary cities, BLM, and Antifa resents free speech and ballot verification.

    How did we get to this point? Immigration and globalization have played a big role. The Democrats intend to use immigration to cancel any pendulum swing–it worked in California. And the snobs on the West Coast have had their interests profitably conflicted by Beijing for years.

    But I’ll raise a third explanation. The Establishment Clause. When the Supreme Court finally put its foot down and drove religion out of public schools, it broke the right arm of conservative thought in public education. The intentions were good, but in the age of communism and fascism, religion isn’t the only dogma anymore. The church of woke has been unopposed in our public schools for decades as a result of that decision. Hence, the millennials–our precious children–are turned inside out. I don’t know if they’ll ever wake up and time is running out.

    And I’ll raise a fourth explanation. Liberalism. As much as I admire some liberals, too many have always had a sneaking admiration for the hard left. There is no analog for this on the right. Conservatives do not identify with neo-Nazis or racist extremists. The left claims Trump is that extremism, but that has always been gaslighting. Joe Biden, Barack Obama’s white lawn jockey, has already begun his own liberal capitulation to the left.

    Get ready for President Kamala Erdogan.

    1. “The intentions were good,…”

      If you believe that, I’ve got a property deal you might be interested in.

  8. Erdogan is a Corrupt, Bully, Thug who believes he is the next Leader of the Failed Ottoman Empire. The DEM’s and Radical Left and Woke crowd believe in what Erdogan is doing a one party rule and Corruption as long as they get the $$$$ and power. One day their will be a Turkish Spring when the rest of the country has had enough and rise up and Clean House of the Dictators and Thugs, clean sweep.

  9. Endogan used his protection detail to physically attack U.S. protesters in Washington.

    He is a thug, but American police and federal authorities stood by while Americans were beaten by foreign security agents in DC.

    Seems like our government is fully tolerant of the man.

    1. By the way, imagine if those Americans had used their 2nd Amendment rights to protect themselves from a beating by foreign agents on American soil.

      They would be dead or in prison for life.

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