Freedom of Speech Disappearing in Turkey
Mehdi Hasan reports in The Guardian on what he calls “a new climate of fear” in Turkey due to escalated arrests of students, journalists, and artists who have spoken out against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government. The number of journalists in prison has doubled since last year to 95, the highest number in the world, while other journalists have lost their jobs due to government pressure on media organizations. Meanwhile, two students received 8 year prison sentences last week for “membership in a terrorist organization” because they held a banner saying “We want free education, we will get it” at an event hosted by Erdogan.
Also, hundreds protested a proposed law limiting abortion Sunday in Istanbul. The Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe criticized the proposed law, calling it “regressive” and said that it would not decrease the number of abortions. She went on to add “I don’t want to say that Turkey is becoming more conservative… but there are also areas where we have serious concerns.”
Additionally, Christopher Torchia and Emrah Betos write how Islamic Ottoman era reverence is slowly replacing the secular “cult of Ataturk” in Turkey. Whereas in the past the Turkish founder was treated as inviolable, Torchia and Betos argue that Islamist politicians have inaugurated a new era of questioning Ataturk’s image and values, which could have severe implications for Turkey’s future as a model secular nation in the Middle East.