Daily Cumhuriyet columnists Ceyda Karan and Hikmet Çetinkaya are facing 4,5 years of prison because of a Charlie Hebdo cover they featured in their columns as a visual.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu threatened the daily Cumhuriyet in a public speech on January 28; saying they will call Cumhuriyet (and “the coalition” he claims the daily belongs) to account for publishing an interview with the prosecutor who has started a corruption investigation against the government in December 2013.
“Remember the newspaper who distrubuted the supplement of the magazine which insulted our prophet. It is making interviews about the prosecutor of the era. See what kind of coalition we are facing… We will call account for these” he said.
The PM has criticized the Cumhuriyet harshly before for publishing Charlie Hebdo cartoons.
* Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu claimed they have warned the daily about the “sensitivities” of publishing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. The newspaper’s chair of the ruling board stated that no such interaction took place.
* Cumhuriyet reported on January 16 that some news stands are being threatened to not to sell their paper while others refuse to put the paper in display and send the packages back unwrapped.
* Prime Minister Davutoğlu criticized Cumhuriyet once more on January 18 as protests against the daily continued. “Every kind of press freedom is secured in our country but we did not and will not allow the nation’s values to be insulted; yet the holy prophet of a 1,5 billion Muslims” he said. The PM also criticized the CHP for standing behind Cumhuriyet.
A crowd allegedly involved with the National Movement Party (MHP) stoned the pro-government extreme fundamentalist daily Yeni Akit’s building during early hours of January 15. Two people from the Yeni Akit staff is reported to be injured while property damage occurred to the building and nearby vehicles. Videos on social media confirm shots were fired during the event but it is not clear who fired on who from where. The protesters claim they were fired upon from the building but the daily denies that. Nobody is seriously injured.
The attacks were caused by the social media debates over the daily Cumhuriyet publishing Charlie Hebdo caricatures. Since the Cumhuriyet is a pro-CHP newspaper known as kemalist, a twitter account using the name of Yeni Akit shared doctored pictures of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (in one he is portrayed as gay and Jewish while in another he is photoshopped to look beaten up) in retaliation. They obviously wanted to offend kemalists but drew fire from nationalists also.
Yeni Akit defends itself by claiming that that twitter account is not its official one but it is the more active account with more followers. The fundamentalist daily is known to share its more controversial content from that account. Some secularist wings of Turkish nationalists are as sensitive about Atatürk as kemalists; as the attack shows.
The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation into the Cumhuriyet daily for reprinting a selection of cartoons from the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo. Columnists Ceyda Karan and Hikmet Çetinkaya, alongside the newspaper’s executives will be questioned by the prosecutors and may be charged with “provoking the people to hatred and animosity.” The daily has run selections from the magazine in its yesterday edition but not the cover featuring Mohammad. The two columnists have featured the mentioned cartoon as a visual within their columns.
The two columnists receive a lot of death threats on internet; reports say.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Davutoğlu was furious against Cumhuriyet: “Freedom of the press does not mean freedom to insult. In particular, if it is an insult against a Prophet who has been a ‘mercy to the worlds,’ and who has a much greater meaning than our personalities and characters, this is not freedom of the press,” Davutoğlu said, using a verse from the Quran when using the description “mercy to the worlds.” He also said: “In this country, we don’t allow insults to the Prophet. This is a very clear, sharp and principled stance. Everybody should know this. This matter has also been explained to the press institutions.”
French daily Liberation reported on January 13, 2015 that Turkey’s daily Cumhuriyet will publish this week’s issue of weekly Charlie Hebdo in Turkish; the first issue since the massacre. This resulted in threats in the social and conventional media against the newspaper. As President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan blames the French security forces and others for the Paris massacre, many Muslims in Turkey perceive the massacre as a conspiracy against Islam.
Turkish police came to the printhouse where Cumhuriyet is printed around 01.00 AM on January 14 and halted the trucks until 01.40 although they failed to present a court order to do so. Main opposition party CHP’s deputy Umut Oran asked a parliamentary question to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu bu which authority the police delays the distribution of Cumhuriyet and other publications printed at that location without a court order. he also reminded the PM the march he attended at Paris and asked did he gave the order for this printhouse raid.
The controversial edition of the Cumhuriyet on January 14 featured four pages of selections from the latest Charlie Hebdo issue but not the cover which featured a caricature of Islam prophet Mohammad. Instead, two columnists had that caricature a s a visual for their columns. These columnists, Ceyda Karan and Hikmet Çetinkaya, receive a lot of threats also, alongside their newspaper.
Cumhuriyet was sold out quickly in the morning but it must be noted that at least some dealers did not put the papers on stands. The daily released a statement in the day; saying that they do not intend to insult anybody’s values but they will continue to defend the freedom of speech.
Three Turkish satire magazines; Leman, Penguen and Uykusuz published their latest issues also on January 14 with the same cover: “Je suis Charlie” in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo.
Later in the day, a Diyarbakır court issued a ban on the Mohammad caricature.
Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan criticized Cumhuriyet on twitter: “We condemn provocations, attacks and defamation against the Muslims and Islamic symbols the same way as we denounced the Paris attacks” & “Those who disregard Muslims’ sacred (values) by publishing images attributed to Holy Prophet are in open provocation”
The daily Milliyet did not publish columnist Mehveş Evin’s piece on Charlie Hebdo. She put it on Tumblr instead.
Internet news sites T24 and toplumsol published the Turkish edition of the Charlie Hebdo issue as a whole in the evening.
Turkish police took security measures around Cumhuriyet offices from the early hours of the day as these videos show and detained three people at different times through the day. Some fundamentalists have made a call on Facebook to protest Cumhuriyet at 8.30 PM.
The protest ended without incident.