Turkish columnist fired via Twitter over his tweets

Turkish columnist fired via Twitter over his tweets

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish columnist fired via Twitter over his tweets

Today's Zaman editor-in-chief announced Babahan's job termination via Twitter.

Columnist Ergun Babahan was fired from his post at English daily Today's Zaman via a twitter message by the paper's editor-in-chief, over a number of tweets he posted yesterday.

Babahan, a supporter of Fenerbahçe football club, posted controversial tweets after his team lost the Super League title to arch-rival Galatasaray on Fenerbahçe's home field.

Fenerbahçe fans invaded the pitch and clashed with the police after the game ended. The clashes had continued outside the stadium, where police officers had to detain hooligans at gunpoint.

Turkish columnist fired via Twitter over his tweets

Babahan implied the police was attacking Fenerbahçe fans on orders from the Fethullah Gülen religious community. "Whose police are they?I doubt they are the poeple's," Babahan tweeted, in line with claims by Fenerbahçe supporters that the Gülen community was manupilating the ongoing match-fixing probe in order to take over the club.

"Fener fans will bring democracy to Turkey, and will not surrender to the [Bashar] al-Assads of Turkey," Babahan also tweeted, adding: "Fenerbahçe stadium is a Tahrir Square."

Babahan then posted a veiled insult directed at Fethullah Gülen, who currently resides in the United States: "America can shove this cup," (Bu kupa Amerika'ya girsin) which infuriated Twitter users. Babahan defended himself by saying that it was a typo and that he meant to write "America can have this cup" (Bu kupa Amerika'ya gitsin), and he later deleted the original offending message. He refused to apologize however, and went on to post tweets with extensive spelling errors for the remainder of the night.

Today's Zaman Editor-in-Chief Bülent Keneş, meanwhile, announced via Twitter that Babahan was no longer working for the paper, just moments after his controversial tweets. "Babahan had his opinions published in TZ [Today's Zaman] twice a week. I hereby declare that he will remain a bitter memory at TZ," Keneş tweeted.

Babahan thus became the second columnist in Turkey to lose his job over messages they posted on their personal Twitter accounts. The first such columnist was Ece Temelkuran, who was fired from her position at daily Habertürk in January.

Babahan's case was unique for the fact that the termination of his job contract was announced on Twitter by his editor-in-chief.