Archive for free speech

Turkish “censorship” delight

I have been absent from the online world for a while, and this is due to my well-deserved vacations in the fabulous country of Turkey. This land between Asia and Europe is absolutely beautiful, and full of contradictions. It is predominantly Muslim, but used to be Christian, and once upon a time part of the Roman empire. So there are Roman ruins (including Troy), Mosques and beautiful churches.

More importantly than the architecture though, the major contradiction is the predominance of a strong religion in a country that is in theory secular. I met some friends of a friend, who, like myself, studied journalism with the romantic idea of serving the masses while reporting on world injustices. The problem? Not only can they not find jobs, but Turkey’s censorship is legendary. There is an agency, RTÜK, the Radio and Television Supreme Council, in charge of monitoring, regulating, and sanctioning radio and television broadcasts.

Apparently various journalists are in jail for things they didn’t even get a chance to publish, since they were stopped by the RTÜK before publication. Prominent female publisher Ayse Nur Zarakolu, who was described by the New York Times as “[o]ne of the most relentless challengers to Turkey’s press laws”,  has been imprisoned various times.

This, to me, is one of the greatest contradictions in this country and probably a big obstacle for the country to be considered part of the European Union. I kept seeing an attempt to show that they are an economic power, that they are modern, that they are open to the world. But without freedom of speech, to me all of the rest is useless. You might as well be Saudi Arabia. Things like a full democracy are black and white; gray should be unacceptable. What do you think?