Turkish PM targets Wikipedia amid ‘censorship’ of sexual articles
ANKARAPrime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, a professor-turned-politician, has slammed the use of Wikipedia in academic work, amid an ongoing debate over the “censorship” of several pages of the Internet’s free encyclopedia in Turkey.
“If there is a sophisticated, in-depth, original contribution in a work, I know whether the writer has used [printed] books,” Davutoğlu said on Nov. 24 during a speech in Ankara on the occasion of Teachers’ Day.
He said Wikipedia, in contrast to printed texts, allowed doctorate students to compile information for their theses in an “ordinary and mechanical” way.
“I’m not saying this to discredit computers. We should adapt to technological innovations. But please ... take your children to a bookstore sometimes and let them have that smell,” Davutoğlu added, addressing a group of teachers who had come to Ankara from 81 Turkish provinces.
Meanwhile, several Wikipedia articles in Turkish, including ones titled “female reproduction organ,” “human penis” and “vagina,” remain blocked in Turkey, with Internet rights activists slamming the practice as “censorship.”
TTNET, the country’s largest Internet service provider, announced last week that the Wikipedia pages had been blocked by Turkey’s Telecommunications Directorate (TİB).
The government had granted the TİB extraordinary authority to to monitor Internet users and block websites and their content without court permission in September, but the Constitutional Court overturned the law the following month.
Tablets not a ‘gaming tool’
After heralding the upcoming appointment of 15,000 new teachers in January, Davutoğlu also touched on unexpected trouble in Turkey’s Fatih Project, as part of which some 800,000 tablet computers were distributed to students nationwide.
“We didn’t give those tablets to children as mechanical devices. I have learned from several sources that the tablets are becoming gaming tools. I don’t say that gaming is wrong, but we have distributed those tablets to acquiant students with the information age and the possibility of accessing information,” he said, noting that his government “can distribute toys separately.”
Davutoğlu ended his speech by stressing that tablets, as a “complimentary” education tool, should not herald the end of print books.
“If students forget the love for books, nobody can give it back to them,” he said.