Insulting Erdogan is still verboten

by omouggos

Dutch newspaper depicting Erdogan as an ape. (image from

The President of the European Council Donald Tusk has given President Erdoğan some advice, saying that the latter needs “thicker skin” to deal with the criticisms and ‘insults’ levied at him.[1] I highly doubt that Erdoğan the Thin-Skinned[2] will listen to Tusk and change his ways as his prosecution of those who insult him continues unabated.

In Turkey a Dutch reporter Ebru Umar, who also holds Turkish citizenship, tweeted that Erdoğan was a “megalomaniac dictator,” a “Sultan” and that he can “go f%&*@k himself.”[3] As a result Umar has been arrested in Aydın province by Turkish authorities.

Another journalist Can Dündar, who is also on trial for uncovering that Turkish intelligence had sent a shipment of weapons to Syrian rebels, has been fined 28,650 Turkish Liras for insulting “public officials” such as Erdoğan, his son Bilal, and others.[4] His crime was writing a series of articles in December 2013 which alleged the corruption of these officials. He said “If revealing the truth is a crime, we will keep on committing it.” His lawyer said “We didn’t insult anybody. We just wrote what happened.

In Istanbul, a Belgium national, while not being arrested by authorities, was instead assaulted by her fiancé after she cursed and blamed the ISIL bombings in Brussels on Erdoğan.[5] According to the woman, her fiancé “had previously threatened to make me blind, throw me out a window and kill me, and he beat me as well.” Since the man has justified his assault on the grounds that his fiancée insulted the president, the woman is now under investigation for violating Article 299 of the Turkish penal code, the law criminalizing insulting the president.

It is also interesting to note that two foreign journalists, German Mahir Boztepe of Sputnik news agency and American David Lepeska, have been denied entry into Turkey.[6] No reason has been given for as to why the two were not allowed to enter Turkey.

Moving on to Germany, where it also appears impermissible to insult Erdoğan, the leader of the Pirate Party Bruno Kramm was arrested by police during a demonstration. His wrongdoing was reciting a line from Jan Böhmermann’s anti-Erdoğan poem (the “Kicking Kurds, beating Christians” part).[7] Kramm who has subsequently been released had this to say of the situation “[The fact] that Merkel now is actually giving Erdogan a chance to press lawsuits is ridiculous. But it shows that when you start to deal with dictators like Erdogan, then you will face severe troubles for your own people in your own country.”[8]

Erdoğan seems to be expanding his reach into the Netherlands. There are reports that the Turkish government has advised Turks in the Netherlands to report individuals who insult Turkey or its president to the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam.[9] The Turkish Foreign Ministry has summoned the Dutch ambassador over their concern pertaining to an unflattering cartoon of Erdoğan.[10] The controversy resulted over a cartoon on the cover of De Telegraaph depicting Erdoğan as an ape.[11]

The Turkish government has asked Switzerland to remove a photo from an art exhibit.[12] The photo is of Berkin Elvan and is captioned “The police killed me, on the order of Turkey’s prime minister.” The 15 year old Elvan died as a result of injuries sustained during the 2013 Gezi protest. Turkish authorities are not too pleased that Erdoğan is being implicated and associated with the death of Elvan.

In Sweden a documentary on the Armenia genocide has just been aired, in spite of protests from the Turkish embassy, who attempted to block the airing of the documentary.[13] To the Turks such a documentary is insulting to the image of Turkey, hence their ire towards it.

In closing, the British writer Douglas Murray has started an offensive poetry competition the subject of which is Erdoğan.[14] One wonders how long it will take for the Turkish Foreign Ministry to lodge a complaint over the competition with British authorities and for Mr. Murray and others to be arrested. Unfortunately with the way things are going in Europe this seems like a likely outcome.

O Mouggos



[2] see my previous post Sultan Erdogan the Thin-Skinned.

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