Watch out for pusses in boots these days
We have this saying among journalists in Turkey; you never become a real journalist until you are tried in court. We get complaints for the stories we air or the ones we don’t. This, I guess, is part of our jobs.
Sometimes we defend our stories in court. We are used to this. But these days, it is different.
I recently received an email from our law department; apparently there was a complaint against me. I was accused of making propaganda for the July 15 coup attempt. Well, that was a surprise; the coup attempt was organized by an Islamist movement with an Islamist agenda, and let alone being a part of such sect, it is no secret that I have had a hard time even buying really mild/democratic religious discourse.
My lawyer tried to dig in to my file, but even though my file was not under the seal of secrecy, he had a hard time getting a hold of it. In his every attempt, he was told that the file was being studied by a public prosecutor. Anyhow, we found out that apparently I was being accused due to a Periscope broadcast I did in 2015, a long time before the coup attempt.
Çetin Altan, a prominent journalist at the time, who died on Oct. 22, 2015, was a sui generis person. He was a socialist and served as an MP for the communist Turkish Labor Party (TİP). I never forgot his piece in which he questioned circumcision by going through the theory of evolution. He was a brave guy; the type who always tried to swim upstream. Although I don’t agree with him in all aspects, I respect people with such principles and ideals.
So long story short, as a younger journalist, I wanted to pay tribute to Çetin Altan on the day he died, and I referred to the last article he wrote for daily Cumhuriyet. His last piece was published on July 24, 2015.
“Apparently I will leave this world before democracy is established in my country,” was the first sentence of his piece.
“We have been carrying a wounded giant on our backs from generation to generation, so that one day he would rise again on his two feet. I never lost faith that the giant would be healed and would rise to his feet.
One day, this country will be back on his feet and then he will wear magical boots like the cat in the story and fly forward,” he continued.
This was the part of his article that attracted me. He was referring to Turkey as the wounded giant, although he was not hopeful, he was probably hoping for an open-minded, strong generation that would push Turkey forward with some sort of magical boots. He was referring to the famous old story “Puss in Boots.” What harm could “Puss in Boots” do? Right?
Well apparently even a cat in boots can put a journalist in Turkey in danger. I found out when I went to answer the prosecutor’s questions. Someone, a person that I do not know personally, had filed a complaint against me. He was accusing me of sending secret codes by referring to those boots. He claimed I was praising the coup attempt.
We have a saying in Turkish; “the finger cut by the Sharia does not hurt,” and law is law, if there’s a complaint against me, and this complaint has been taken seriously, and a file has been created and the prosecutor wants to ask me questions, so be it.
The public prosecutor’s office was kind of an indicator though; a huge Ottoman sign on a plaque that had a quote from the Ottoman Sultan Süleyman, known famously for being “the law maker,” along with a quote from Mevlana Rumi.
I tried to explain who Çetin Altan was, as the prosecutor did not know who he was, and what he meant by using the metaphor Puss in Boots.
So basically those boots referred to in the article actually has nothing to do with soldiers’ boots. The prosecutor said in response “We will look into this and see.”
So the Turkish justice system is searching for “Puss in Boots” these days.