Two Turkish journalists face jail terms for Charlie Hebdo cover
ISTANBULTwo Turkish journalists face up to four-and-a-half years in prison for republishing the cover of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo featuring an image of the Prophet Muhammad.
Ceyda Karan and Hikmet Çetinkaya, both columnists at daily Cumhuriyet, face jail terms for allegedly “insulting people’s religious values” for reprinting the caricature of Islam’s prophet following the Jan. 7 attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris that killed 12 people.
The indictment prepared by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s office charges both Karan and Çetinkaya with “openly insulting religious values accepted by a section of the society” and “openly encouraging hate and enmity among people” by republishing the cartoon in their columns on Jan. 14.
Some 1,280 people were listed as complainants in the 38-page indictment, while Karan and Çetinkaya were named as suspects, Doğan News Agency reported.
“It is not possible to not foresee the results of the publishing of these cartoons in Turkey, where a majority of the population is Muslim, considering the incident in France. At this point, republishing these cartoons does not serve the common good and they cannot be seen within the scope of freedom of thought,” said the indictment, adding that protests were staged in front of Cumhuriyet’s Istanbul office after the publication of the cartoons, which is proof that they had “created an atmosphere that harms public order.”
Cumhuriyet faced security threats when it became one of five international publications that printed excerpts of the edition of Charlie Hebdo that appeared after the attacks, in a show of solidarity with the killed cartoonists.
“We are being threatened with prison for defending free speech. To threaten a journalist because he or she printed a drawing that does not include an insult can only come from a religious, authoritarian government,” Karan told Reuters.
“Neither of us will abandon our defense of free speech,” she said, adding that she has had bodyguard protection since January.
The prosecutor opened his investigation into Cumhuriyet after Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu accused the paper of “incitement” for publishing the Charlie Hebdo excerpts.
Davutoğlu marched with world leaders in Paris after the attacks in what he said was an expression of his opposition to terrorism. He also warned that Islamophobia could fan Muslim unrest across the world.