To publish Charlie Hebdo or not

To publish Charlie Hebdo or not

Before I went to bed the other night, I wrote this piece in my mind. I was going to address my colleagues at daily Cumhuriyet. I was going to tell them, “Look, what is the point of publishing the cartoons now?”

Yes, we have all said what we were going to say about the Charlie Hebdo massacre; we took the necessary and correct stance that we thought was most accurate. 

So, what is the meaning of publishing those caricatures here, now?

I have a right to say that. I have known the people, the writers, who make Cumhuriyet for years. Even though we have differences of opinions from time to time, most of the time we are on the same ship: Committed to the values of the republic, to secularism, a passion for democracy, with the belief in pluralism. We have always defended freedoms, not only today, but for 45 years. We have regarded democracy as the biggest guarantee for our lifestyles.

Yes, I was going to ask with these feelings: What is the point of that publication?

When there were trolls ready to use this incident for elections, when the public was so sensitive and divided, when the rights and wrongs of the situation were disappearing… What was the point of doing such a thing? I was going to say, “No offense, but I am not with you on this.”

I was going to say that, but the midnight police raid at the publishing house swept away all these feelings.

Raiding a printing house?

The last time we saw this was during the Sept. 12 regime. Now, as our ill fate would have it, we see it in the 21st century, in this regime…

I woke up in the morning and thought about it until noon.

This government and its police did such a thing that it took my right to criticize Cumhuriyet away from me.

All of a sudden, I found myself in the same mood as millions of people in France. There, millions of people marched not to defend the caricatures of Charlie Hebdo, but to defend its freedom of expression. 

Today, I am doing the same and fiercely condemning the raid on the printing house. But still, right after this, I turn to my friends at Cumhuriyet and ask with all my heart, “What was the point?”

Our image abroad is beyond calamitous

We can shout here as much as we want that Islam and the word “terror” cannot go together. But when two people with Kalashnikovs in their hands massacre 12 people shouting “Allahu akbar,” it is difficult to explain this to the world. 

The moment you step outside the Turkish borders, you hear the expression “Islamic terror.” Not only this, you also hear from the statements of al-Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Boko Haram that they are doing it “in the name of Islam.”

We can argue as much as we want that those people who mention “Islamic terror” are Islamophobic. The civilized people of the West are talking about Islamic terror without it being a phobia.

They are not saying it, but we should know that al-Qaeda, ISIL and Boko Haram are doing these acts in these countries to create Islamophobia.

We can talk about “advanced democracy” as much as we want, we can say “We have the freest press in our country,” but across our borders almost everybody now believes that Turkey has become an “Islamic authoritarian regime.”

We can say as much as we want that the income level of Turkey has increased, that we have become a developed country; people on the other side of the border, when they see this wannabe palace in Ankara, this palace pantomime, it reminds them of the tents of Muammar Gaddafi, the flamboyant dictatorships of the Middle East and their one-man worshipping.