Fanaticism conquers Turkey

Fanaticism conquers Turkey

For the past two years, Turkey has been in a downward political spiral where the language of hatred and demonization overshadows everything else. The spiral is only getting deeper and deeper by jumping to new levels with every new political crisis and drama. 

The terror attack against prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz, which took place last Tuesday within the colossal courthouse in central Istanbul, was one such level-jumper. The late Mr. Kiraz was overlooking the case of Berkin Elvan, a 15-year-old boy who had tragically died because of an injury he took to his head during the Gezi Park protests of summer 2013. The injury was caused by a police tear-gas canister and prosecutor Kiraz was really trying his best to figure out which police officers were responsible.

But in the eyes of the DHKP-C, the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party–Front, an illegal Marxist-Leninist terror group, the entire “state” was responsible for the murder of Berkin, who they wanted to avenge. That is the background of why two members of the DHKP-C entered the courthouse last Tuesday cloaked as lawyers, entered prosecutor Kiraz’s room, took out their guns and held him captive. After six hours of bargaining, a police operation began, only to end with the two terrorists killed and the prosecutor found dead. There was no doubt this was a terrorist crime, the DHKP-C is a terror threat and Turkey’s courthouses need better security. But since the murder, the ongoing political madness focused on something else: The demonization of non-pro-government newspapers, including Hurriyet, as “supporters of terrorism.” 

The “logic” to this ridiculous campaign is nothing more than a photo Hurriyet and various other papers published the day after the attack. It shows the DHKP-C terrorists holding the prosecutor captive, with a gun pointed to his head. This, the government and its lackeys argue, amounts to nothing but “terrorist propaganda,” regardless of the fact all headlines and captions were full of condemnations of the attack. (The equivalent to this would be to condemn Western media sources for “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] propaganda” for merely publishing images of ISIL terrorists with their hostages.) While the ethics of such news making is debatable, to see a conspiratorial support for terrorism in it is preposterous. But, alas, the government is missing no opportunity to further intimidate its opponents.

The intimidation first came out with the statements by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who condemned the newspapers that published the heretical photo as “immoral” and “treacherous.” Erdoğan even said, “This is the greatest treason I have ever seen.” In no time, an Istanbul prosecutor, apparently enlightened by the executive’s views, launched a criminal investigation against Hürriyet and three other newspapers, all of them conspicuously non-pro-government. 

You know what the craziest side of the story is? Two pro-government newspapers published the same photo as well, and two others initially used it on their websites, only to delete it later. But nobody blamed them for “terrorist propaganda” because there is no terrorist propaganda here - with the possible exception of some marginal ultra-left circles. There is, however, propaganda, intimidation and witch-hunting against whoever dares to oppose the government. And the fanaticism behind this zeal is getting worse and worse every day, with no safe exit at sight.