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DIPLOMACY > Threats in Turkey worse than Taliban: Der Spiegel reporter

CANSU ÇAMLIBEL ISTANBUL

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Der Spiegel reporter Kazim (L) speaks to Hürriyet’s Cansu Çamlıbel. Kazim says he received hundreds of threatening messages after his Soma mine disaster report. Hürriyet Photo / Levent KULU

Der Spiegel reporter Kazim (L) speaks to Hürriyet’s Cansu Çamlıbel. Kazim says he received hundreds of threatening messages after his Soma mine disaster report. Hürriyet Photo / Levent KULU

Der Spiegel reporter Hasnain Kazim has said the death threats he has received in Turkey were even “worse than Taliban.”

Kazim, who used the headline “Go to hell, [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan,” quoting a mourner in his report on the Soma mine disaster last month, faced a huge backlash from supporters of the prime minister after the piece was published in Der Spiegel. He said he had received more than 10,000 messages, including death threats against him and his family and profane insults, before Der Speigel withdrew him from Turkey out of concerns for his safety.

“I was concerned but I wasn’t scared. The main issue for me was to understand how big or real the threat was,” Kazim told daily Hürriyet.

“I received many death threats while working in Pakistan. But over four years I had come to know many people from the Taliban and learned how to deal with the threats. Even the threats there were not as intense and heavy as the ones here,” he added.

In the interview with Hürriyet, Kazim recalled how he wrote the report soon after arriving in the grieving town of Soma in the province of Manisa, which saw the deadliest mining disaster in Turkish history, claiming the lives of 301 workers after an explosion on May 13.

He said the scene was horrifying and the mood was a mixture of sadness and anger, with Prime Minister Erdoğan’s controversial visit to Soma “not meeting people’s expectations.” Kazim said Erdoğan “failed to show any empathy or sympathy,” especially in his speech in the town, which downplayed the disaster and appeared to claim that such incidents were just a natural part of mining.

“All the people I spoke with were talking about those sentiments. What they said was all negative, and what one of them said turned out to be the headline of my article. What the man said exactly was: ‘I am someone who loves Erdoğan and have had positive thoughts about him to this day, but today he can go to hell,” Kazim said.

The Der Speigel reporter also insisted that he did not regret using that quote as a headline, despite the threats, adding that he would have used a more positive sentence if it had summed up the mood in Soma on that day.

“It was not my view, or that of Der Spiegel. It was that particular individual’s. If he had told me, ‘He is a good prime minister. We had a bad accident but he came here and gave us hope,’ I would have written it,” Kazim added.

June/23/2014

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