Turkish PM Erdoğan issues tape challenge
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AKP, Feb 18. REUTERS photoPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has slammed once again those who target the government through leaked tapes, calling on them to release “whatever they have.”
“Whoever has any image or audio recording, may they bring them into the open. The CHP [Republican People’s Party] and MHP [Nationalist Movement Party] need scraps to do politics anyway. May they help themselves and throw those scraps in front of the CHP and MHP,” Erdoğan said in a parliamentary group meeting Feb. 18.
Both the CHP and MHP would be unable to challenge the ruling AKP without such leaked tapes, the prime minister said.
Erdoğan claimed his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government was under concerted attack from both an alleged “parallel state” and the Gezi Park protesters, claiming that the two “have the same boss.”
“The Gezi [protesters] and the parallel organization have the same boss. Those are eternal brothers. And now they are jointly conducting an operation against the people,” Erdoğan said.
He has accused a “parallel state” of orchestrating the graft probes that have struck at the heart of the government and showed massive levels of alleged bribery by people in Erdoğan’s inner circle.
Erdoğan implied that the leaks were provided to the CHP by the movement of the U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen through an allusion to pineapples and prayer beads. Both were mentioned as gifts to the movement, known as Cemaat, in separate leaks of Gülen’s phone conversations.
“If you have the courage, publish also the audio recordings of your boss [citing] pineapples, prayer beads and Uganda. Screen those images of curses, [watch] your scholar cursing and you [members] of the CHP altogether say, ‘Amen,’” Erdoğan said, referring to Gülen’s invocation for God to punish the government following the massive purges within the police that came as a response to graft probes. Media close to Gülen’s movement described it as “the first curse” that the Islamic scholar had made in his life.
Announcing that his party would launch rallies across Turkey ahead of next month’s local elections, Erdoğan vowed to “explain the coup plot attempt in each square and in each house.”
Internet bill against offenders
Erdoğan also justified a new bill on the Internet that raised concerns over a government attempt to curb freedoms by offenders who, he said, recorded images of the children of some close aides by hacking their computers.
“I want to tell you about what happened to the children of someone I work with to show how the Internet can be such a threat. Two 12- and 13-year-old children see an image while surfing the internet. On the image, there is the picture of one of them, recorded from the webcam. The hacker has entered the computer and recorded the images inside the house, then added it on a page,” Erdoğan said, adding that the hackers then blackmailed the children claiming that they were gendarmerie officers.
“Believe me, a lot of children do what they are ordered to do out of fear. Here is the simplest fraud made on the Internet,” Erdoğan said.
The disputed bill will allow Turkey’s telecommunications watchdog to shut down a web page prior to a court order, an authority that has been decried as a powerful censorship tool by many civil activists.
“There is no censorship on the Internet. Freedoms are not restricted. We are only taking precautions against blackmail and immorality,” Erdoğan said.
Pro-government media, meanwhile, have sought to portray groups lambasting the attempted censorship as the “Porno Lobby.”
Erdoğan also defended once more a woman who claimed to have been attacked by half-naked protesters at the height of the Gezi protests despite new footage contradicting her account of the incident.
“In the last days, we have been witnessing the lowest lynching attempt in the history of our media. As the lynching attempt in June was not enough, eight months later there is another lynching attempt by the media,” Erdoğan said, indicating that a forensic report had proved the beating marks on her and her baby’s bodies.
“Now, with what face will you talk about women’s rights? A woman subject to rape should have images to convince them? Will a woman exposed to domestic violence come with recordings?” Erdoğan said, slamming “hatred against headscarved women.”
Erdoğan mentioned the incident several times at rallies in the summer to discredit the protesters, although footage of the alleged incident, which was said to have taken place on June 1, 2013, near Istanbul’s Kabataş docks, did not surface for months.
The footage revealed by private broadcaster Kanal D late Feb. 13 caused a wide outcry as it showed no attack as the victim passed through the area at the time of the alleged incident.