Sultan Erdogan Clamps Down on Turkish Media

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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses on April 16, 2013 members of his ruling Justice and Development Party at the Turkish Parliament in Ankara. (Photo: AFP - Adem Altan)

By: Hüsnü Mahalli

Published Thursday, April 18, 2013

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan wields a considerable amount of clout over Turkey’s media. Erdogan is exercising his influence by having journalists opposed to his policies fired so that only one acquiescent voice remains.

Istanbul – Amberin Zaman is the latest victim of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s war on journalists critical of his government’s policies. Last week, the management of Habertürk, a prominent Turkish newspaper, found itself forced to sack Zaman and suspend her column. Zaman often criticized the government’s policies, particularly its stance on Kurds.

Zaman was not given a chance to respond to the newspaper’s decision.

Earlier, star Milliyet columnist Hasan Cemal, who is the grandson of Djemal Pasha, an infamous Ottoman-era WWI general, was fired. He had previously expressed support of some government policies with regard to reconciliation with the Kurds, but this did not prevent his dismissal.

Including Zaman and Cemal, more than 30 journalists have been singled out through similar measures. The orders come either directly or indirectly from the government.

Yet these journalists remain more fortunate than their colleagues who have been imprisoned on charges like terrorism or orchestrating a coup, such as Mustafa Balbay, Cumhuriyet’s former news director.

The government has been extra vigilant about policing Turkish media coverage of Syria, which Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu having been sharply criticized by some Turkish journalists.

For instance, after her reporting on the conflict in Syria and Turkish support for the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other militant groups, Ceyda Karan was sacked from Habertürk TV.

In June 2012, Erdogan prohibited a number of prominent Turkish journalists from travelling to Syria to interview President Bashar al-Assad. They had obtained an official appointment with Assad, but the affair sparked wide controversy in the Turkish and international media.

Erdogan has been dubbed the “New Sultan” by Turkish journalists. Indeed, since he took office at the end of 2002, it seems that the Turkish PM has sought to turn Turkey into a quasi-Islamic state, of which he would be the uncontested ruler. Meanwhile, the number of dissenting journalists who remain a source of annoyance to Erdogan is dwindling by the day.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.


Salam sir,
I am Bangladeshi Muslim. Our government kills us like Palestine, our all leader in arrested. And all media (print and visual) cut off. We cannot talk about us in media. Plz help us. Plz sir……….us……….We are now muzlum.

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