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The Ottoman Tuğra: A Twitter Feed

Osmanlı Padişah Fermanları (1986)

When I was but a lowly undergrad studying in Brussels, I first encountered the Ottoman Tuğra in the summer of 1988. That chance meeting took place at the Türk-İslam Eserleri Müzesi in İstanbul.1 In fact, I became so enamoured with these samples of Ottoman calligraphy that I wanted to write my undergraduate thesis on them. Alas, due to lack of a qualified supervisor in the neighbourhood, that desire of mine remained unfulfilled. Needless to say, I have ever since always had a great love for Ottoman Tuğra‘s, but have in my academic career not been able to do anything about that. And, by sheer happenstance, nearly 31 years after my first exposure to the Tuğra, I just now stumbled across this quite wonderful Twitter feed, explaining nearly everything anyone would like to know about the delicate caligraphic flowers. The one doing the tweeting was Maryland-based historian who also happens to be a  PhD student Jonathan Parkes Allen, and here is a rendition. Dr Allen-to-be begins by saying these humble words: “And now a super-thread on the winding & complicated (pun intended) history of the tuǧra, a textual feature often defined as a ‘calligraphic emblem’ for ‘Turkic’ rulers, though that definition doesn’t capture the whole story. Let’s start with a ‘classic’ Ottoman tuǧra: That of Süleyman the Great. Here’s the entirety of the tuǧra I showed in detail view yesterday (LACMA M.85.237.17); it’s a good example of where the tuǧra would go under the Ottomans, with a fairly set form, lots of floral flourish, and a range of uses”.

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Continuing like this: “Use of the tuǧra goes back to at least the Great Seljuks. Exact origins are fuzzy (including the word’s etymology), but it seems like that the bow and arrow emblem visible on this gold dinar of Tughril Beg (d. 1063) represents an early tuǧra, or what would become the tuǧra”.

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Going on, “Our earliest textual attestation is from the Dīwān lughāt al-turk of Maḥmūd al-Kāshgarī (d. 1102), who gives this definition: ‘The tughra is the seal (ṭābiʿ) and signature (tawqīʿ) of the king; Oghuz dialect and not known to the [Western] Turks; I do not know its origin. The historian Bar Hebraeus (d. 1286) gives more context: ‘And from this time Sultan Tughril Beg began to inscribe the figure of a bow at the top of his seal, and inside it were these titles. And that sign was called ‘tughra’, and he who wrote [it] being commanded, ‘tughrai. No Seljuk tuǧras proper have survived, but Mamluk examples have, such as this one recorded by al-Qalqashandī (d. 1418) in his Ṣubḥ al-aʻshá. The basic form of the tuǧra is evident: soaring verticals (originally arrows?) with the rest of the letters interlacing (like bows)”.

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Moving along, “Al-Qalqashandī also discusses the administrative uses of and scribal practices associated with Mamluk tuǧras, which eventually fell out of fashion among the Mamluk rulers. From the Mamluks the tuǧra would go in two different directions: the Ottoman one and the Indian one. n India-especially in late medieval & early modern Bengal- Turkic Muslim rulers would employ the tuǧra style in spectacular fashion in inscriptions on architecture, such as this c. 1500 example from a west Bengal mosque built by Shahzade Daniyal (Met. 1981.320)”.

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And, “Or this one from 1487 from a mosque built by the Bengal Sultanate ruler Jalal al-Din Fath Shah (d. 1487), which beautifully displays the evolution from Mamluk tuǧra-as-calligraphic-signature to tuǧra-as-monumental-calligraphy (BM OA+.2299)”.

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The tuǧra would also continue, sporadically at least, to develop in India into its better known usage among the Ottomans as the calligraphic emblem of the ruler, culminating in Mughal tuǧras, such as this one of Shah Jahan embedded in a illumined rosette (Met. 55.121.10.39)”.

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Dr Allen-to-be then says that the “Mughals would also use a blockier (to use the technical language) form of the tuǧra affixed to official documents, such as this c. 1645 instance, also from Shah Jahan, w/ that of his son Dara Shikoh, on a fermān responding to a request for aid (Met. 1997.205)”.

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Finally getting down to the nitty-gritty he says: “Now for the Ottomans: one of our earliest surviving tuǧra, on a coin minted by a şehzade (prince), Süleyman Çelebi (d. 1411), shows what would become the typical features of the O. tuǧra: three verticals going up & two ellipticals going left, name & titles inside”.

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Explaining then that the “tuǧra would become an emblem used especially by sultans but also by other members of the elite; with a few exceptions, calligraphers from the inner hierarchy would draft, write, & illumine the reigning sultan’s tuǧra, the process governed by an array of officials & steps. Besides fermâns, the tuǧra was affixed to deeds, endowed books, to coins, (eventually) architectural inscriptions, and various other substrates, such as this book of Islamic jurisprudence with Bayezid II’s gorgeous gold and floral bedecked tuǧra (Khalili Collections MSS 83)”.

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Or this set-on-its-side tuǧra of Selim III, added in 1802 to a book of fatwas (Khalili Collections MS 84)”.

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Coins continued to feature sultanic tuǧras, such as this lovely instance minted in 1703 under Ahmed III (BM 1947,0606.1567)”.

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Going into some more detail, Dr Allen-to-be explains that the “tuǧra made its way into other contexts, too, such as in the following analogy made by the sufi şeyh Ismail Hakkı (d. 1725) in his Kenz-i maḫfî: ‘All of the prophets with the divine books in their hands are like a fermân of the exalted Sultan, while the Messenger of God, with the Qur’an in his hand, is like the fermân’s ṭuǧrâ. Just as if a sultanic fermân is not marked with a ṭuǧrâ it is not in force, if all of the prophets [& their books] had not been revealed & made manifest within the Muhammadan form…they would not be in circulation’. Ahmed III helped usher in new developments in the tuǧra, by drafting a hadith (‘My intercession is for those in my community, who commit greater sins’) in tuǧra form, which would become extremely popular in coming years, like other material forms of devotion”.

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And on, “[m]any, many copies of this hadith-tuǧra, to use Philippe Bora Keskiner’s term for it, exist, such as this elegant 18th c. copy, which would have been mounted by itself, similar to a hily-i şerîf. Going to stop for now- other tasks call- but I’ll pick this thread up later with 19th and 20th century permutations of the tuǧra, and of course others’ contributions and/or questions are welcome!”. . . And you can tweet him at @Mar_Musa.

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1Osmanlı Padişah Fermanları (Kültür Bakanlığı Yayınları Ankara 1986 ).

SECULARISM, BEER AND BIKINIS (2011-03-09)

HURRIYET DAILY NEWS

 

SECULARISM, BEER AND BIKINIS

CAN ERİMTAN

Some time ago, the Turkish government made public that it planned to alter the way in which alcohol is being sold in the country. According to some, the current Justice and Development Party, or AKP, government has been waging a war against the consumption of alcohol in the country in a bold-faced attempt to bring Turkey more in line with Islamic rules and regulations.

Two vocal critics of the AKP and its government, Soner Çağaptay and Cansın Ersöz, researchers affiliated with the Turkish Research Program at the pro-Israeli Washington Institute for Near East Policy, categorically write that since “the AKP rose to power in Turkey in 2002, special taxes on alcohol have increased dramatically, making a glass of wine or beer one of the most expensive in Europe, and for that purpose anywhere in the world.” In June 2002, the AKP adopted the Special Consumption Tax, or ÖTV, which raised the tax on alcoholic beverages from 18 percent (the standard VAT rate) to 48 percent, and as time went by, the ÖTV rate increased more and more until it reached 63 percent in 2009. Subsequently, the government came under fire for its policy and in 2010, some ÖTV taxes were eliminated.

But now the Tobacco and Alcohol Market Regulatory Authority, or TAPDK, has issued new regulations restricting advertisements for alcoholic beverages as well as its sale tactics. The decree requires catering companies that organize events that serve alcoholic beverages to get a license before each event. While it also prohibits supermarkets and grocery stores from placing alcoholic products for sale near goods aimed at children and youngsters. In addition, the sale of alcohol will be banned at municipally owned establishments and along roads designated as highways and state routes in the traffic code. However, no such provision in the regulation will apply to the sale of alcoholic beverages at venues in coastal zones. Draconic measures which restrict access to a product which is already restricted as a result of its high price?

Çağaptay and Ersöz opine that in “2003, Turkey’s per capita alcohol consumption rate was 1.4 liters per year. For that same year, this amount was 10.9 liters in Belgium; and 11.5 liters and 9.0 liters in neighboring Cyprus and Greece respectively. Even, Qatar, which implements a rigid version of the Shariah under the Wahhabi school, had higher per capita alcohol consumption rates than Turkey, at 4.4 liras per capita.” In other words, Turkish citizens do not appear to partake of alcoholic beverages all that much to begin with.

Arguments claiming to protect the young are very popular when it comes to restricting access to “forbidden” products such as pornography and/or drugs the world over. Mehmet Küçük, the head of the TAPDK, has publicly said that the aim of the new decree was not to restrict individuals’ freedoms but to lessen alcohol’s incentive. In other words, Küçük merely wants to limit the availability of attractive seducers, arguably in a way somewhat similar to the effect of laws that eventually prohibited the Marlboro Man from riding into the sunset while willingly exposing his body to carcinogenic substances in Europe and elsewhere. Küçük is thus suggesting that Turkish citizens require a nanny-state that knows best what is right or wrong. Turkey, a country that straddles the Balkans and the Middle East with a population that is officially 99.9 percent Muslim, is arguably the only country with an Islamic population and culture that allows its citizens unrestricted access to alcoholic beverages. Are the new regulations regarding the sale of alcoholic beverages in Turkey a somewhat cynical ploy to increase the state’s tax revenues or is there more than meets the eye?

In my opinion, the whole debate surrounding the consumption of alcohol in Turkey is primarily about perception. Opponents of the AKP government accuse Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ministers of secretly planning to introduce Islamic codes and attitudes via the backdoor. They thus regard this new TAPDK decree as a direct attack on the country’s “secular constitution.”

Is this really the case, and if so, why? In my book, “Ottomans looking West?” I posited that the “proclamation of the Republic . . . liberated Turkish citizens from the restrictions of Islam and the Şeriat [Shariah].” As a result, Republican Turks were meant to enjoy this world and its delights to the fullest and the decision to let Turkish citizens “partake of the delights of the mortal world was arguably crystallized in the consumption of alcoholic beverages. A strict interpretation of Islam explicitly prohibits the drinking of intoxicants in this world.” Hence, the issue of unrestricted access to beer and other alcoholic intoxicants has now assumed political, if not ideological, importance.

Turkey’s Muslim citizens have had legal access to alcohol since 1926. Turkey’s Islamic neighbor states do not grant their citizens equally easy access to the forbidden delights of alcohol. As a result, some Turks regard the issue as critical to the definition of secularism in the country. In fact, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) also defines secularism as “Concerned with the affairs of this world, wordly; not sacred.”

But nowadays, the term, particularly in its French form of laicité (at the root of Turkey’s laiklik), denotes a strict separation of church (or religion) and state. And, the theory is that Turkey, as a result of the reform movement, known as the İnkılap, is a secular state. In reality, however, ever since the Turkish state abolished the Caliphate and the Ministry of Pious Endowments in 1924, the Turkish Republic has regulated its citizens’ religious life through the Religious Affairs Directorate, a branch of government attached to the office of the prime minister.

Consequently, proponents of secularism in Turkey quite naturally feel the need to attach a lot of importance to certain symbolic issues: the availability of alcoholic beverages springs to mind, as well as the thorny headscarf issue, or rather the notion that women possess the freedom to don more or less revealing outfits (arguably, to please the male gaze). Let us call these charged matters “beer and bikinis” as a shorthand for the contentious topic of Turkish secularism in the 21st century.

Ali Bardakoğlu, the president of the Diyanet until recently, publicly called for the establishment of an independent religious authority in Turkey in an interview he gave to the self-avowed atheist Ahmet İnsel of daily Radikal (Oct. 23-24, 2010). After he made these statements, Bardakoğlu was replaced by Mehmet Görmez as the head of the Diyanet (Nov. 11).

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AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENTS ERDOĞAN, JUNCKER & TUSK

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‘As European leaders prepare to meet Turkey’s President Erdoğan at the NATO summit this week, [the Cartoonists Rights Network International] is just one among many human rights orgs urging the Presidents of the European Commission and Council of Europe to ensure that protection of human rights and detention of journalists in Turkey remain a central point of discussion’.

The CRNI published a public letter addressed to the Turkish Prez and his European interlocutors:

Your excellencies,

Turkey has been a member of the Council of Europe for almost sixty years and is party to the European Convention on Human Rights.

In a meeting with the European Committee on Foreign Affairs held in Strasbourg on May 15th Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council made the following statement with reference to journalists arrested in Turkey on charges pertaining to support for terrorist organisations:

“… there is case law [in the European Court of Human Rights]… that one cannot have a journalist in pre-trial detention for more than four months.”

Staff from the Cumhuriyet newspaper including our colleague the acclaimed and internationally respected cartoonist Musa Kart were formally arrested on November 5th 2016. They were finally indicted on April 4th 2017 – a gap of five months.

Last week they spent their two hundredth consecutive day in custody. When the first hearing of their trial takes place, scheduled for July 24th, they will be approaching the end of their ninth month. And their circumstances are far from unique; Amnesty International’s figures indicate that a third of the world’s imprisoned journalists are in Turley.

By any measure of jurisprudence the protracted detention of these journalists constitute a violation of rights accorded to those awaiting trial.

Furthermore we reject the charges levelled against Kart and his colleagues, who have done nothing more than pursue careers in journalism.

We urge President Tusk and his delegation to press President Erdoğan on conditions for journalists and media workers in Turkey and remind him that, in the word of Sec.Gen. Jagland:

“… [the ECHR] has communicated to the journalists that their[s] are cases of priority.”

Finally we call upon President Erdoğan to consider his own words last year following the attempted coup against his government:

“I feel that if we do not make use of this opportunity correctly, then it will give the people the right to hold us by the throat.”

Time for Turkey to behave “correctly” i.e. like the robust, mature, lawful democracy and valued world player her friends in Europe know her to be.

Joel Pett, President, CRNI”.(1)

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(1) “AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENTS ERDOĞAN, JUNCKER & TUSK” CRNI. http://cartoonistsrights.org/JaAJH

The Coup-that-was-no-Coup according to Ahmet Şık

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Recently, the co-editor of Muftah’s Iran, Iraq, and Turkey pages Claire Sadar published an “interesting” piece on the Coup-that-was-no-Coup. Sadar starts off as follows: “On September 30, Turkish journalist Ahmet [Şık] spoke to a packed seminar room at Harvard University as part of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs’ annual iTurkey in the Modern Worldi seminar. [Şık] is a longtime critic of the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party, the AKP, and has been arrested and tried multiple because of his work. [Şık] was jailed for a year in 2011 as a result of his then unpublished book The Imam’s Army [in Turkish, İmamın Ordusu], which examined the Gulen movement’s penetration into the Turkish government and security forces. At the time, the Turkish government used the book to connect [Şık] to an alleged secret, anti-government organization known as Ergenekon”.[1]

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Sadar continues that Ahmet Şık’s “conclusions are based on his own observations, as well as his sources in Turkish political circles. [Şık] believes the roots of the coup attempt lie in the break between the Turkish government and the Gulen Movement. He does not, however, agree with the Turkish government’s description of the coup attempt as a purely Gulenist plot. [Şık] believes those involved have a much more complex set of backgrounds and motives, and likely include ultra-nationalists, Kemalists, and Gulenists united in their shared opposition to Erdogan and his government, as well as their overtures to the Kurdish PKK guerrilla organization”.[2]

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Claire Sadar explains that according to Şık “the Turkish government was likely alerted to the imminent coup attempt about 4 or 5 pm local time on July 15. Once the alarm was sounded, the head of the Turkish intelligence services, Hakan Findan, paid a visit to the general in charge of Turkey’s land forces. Together, these two men decides to suppress the coup attempt by relaying orders down the ranks (Şık did not specify what kind of orders these might have been). Şık believes that between the time the coup plot was uncovered and the rebellious officers began to move on Istanbul and Ankara, that is between approximately 4 and 10 pm, there were ongoing negotiations between the Turkish intelligence services and civilian government and nationalist officers who were part of the coup alliance. The coup failed not because it was poorly planned, or civilians took to the streets to oppose it, but, rather, because the Turkish government successfully broke the alliance between the non-Gulenist officers and those affiliated with the Movement. One of the crucial pieces of evidence, or lack thereof, is the fact that no organizational chart or plan for the planned military junta has surfaced since the coup was foiled. Such a chart has been a crucial part of every other coup plot in Turkish history. Şık believes this is evidence the Turkish government is trying to cover up the extent of the coup and the specific officers involved. The picture Şık paints of Erdogan and the AKP is very different from their portrayal in the Turkish and international media, since the coup attempt. In Şık’s version of events, Erdogan is still in power only because a compromise was reached with the Turkish military’s nationalist and secularist elements. According to Şık, between the time when the coup was uncovered and when it was crushed, Erdogan’s government likely secured its survival by agreeing to give the military more influence in government decision-making”.[3]

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And in a surprising twist, Sadar argues that rather that “the military’s remaining independence, the failed coup, in fact, has brought the Turkish military back into the political system”.[4]

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[1] Claire Sadar,” A Fascinating Theory About What Really Happened During the Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey” Muftah (s,d,). http://muftah.org/turkish-journalist-ahmet-sik-proposed-fascinating-theory-really-happened-recent-coup-attempt-turkey/#.WAPGmT7_o3z.

[2] Claire Sadar,” A Fascinating Theory About What Really Happened During the Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey”.

[3] Claire Sadar,” A Fascinating Theory About What Really Happened During the Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey”.

[4] Claire Sadar,” A Fascinating Theory About What Really Happened During the Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey”.

Eren Erdemin Meclis Konuşması: AKP-IŞİD İlişkisi

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‘CHP İstanbul Milletvekili Eren Erdem, İstanbul Atatürk Havalimanı dış hatlar terminalinde gerçekleşen saldırının ardından IŞİD’in Türkiye yapılanması hakkında konuşması, TBMM Genel Kurulu’nu karıştırdı (30 Haziran 2016)’.

 

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Cihangir Vakası

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‘20.06.2016 – Medya Mahallesi – 1. Bölüm. Konuk: Süleyman Çelebi / DİSK Eski Genel Başkanı – Siyasetçi. (20 Haziran 2016)’.

‘20.06.2016 – Medya Mahallesi – 2. Bölüm. Konuk: Süleyman Çelebi / DİSK Eski Genel Başkanı – Siyasetçi. (20 Haziran 2016)’.

Cihangir’de dünyaca ünlü müzik grubu Radiohead için ‘Velvet Underground Records’ isimli mekanda düzenlenen etkinliğe “Ramazan’da alkol tüketiliyor” gerekçesiyle saldırıan gruptan üç kişi gözaltına alındı.

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TRT World on the World Humanitarian Summit

‘This special edition is hosted from the first World Humanitarian Summit. The Newsmakers’ Imran Garda talks about disaster management and the global security challenge, and how it impacts what’s being described as the worst humanitarian situation in history.  DISASTER AID: The Newsmakers’ Francis Collings reports on how the international community responds to disasters. EU-TURKEY DEAL: The Newsmakers’ Yvette McCullough reports on the deal that critics say is on the brink of collapse. Published on May 24, 2016.

 

Agenda for Humanity

Joe Biden ziyareti – Barış Doster, Mehmet Ali Güller ve Gürkan Hacır ile Şimdiki Zaman

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 30.01.2016 – Gürkan Hacır ile Şimdiki Zaman – Konuklar: Doç. Dr. Barış Doster / Araştırmacı – Yazar Mehmet Ali Güller / Araştırmacı – Yazar.

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May Day 2014: Workers’ Solidarity or Terrorist Mayhem???

In Turkey, ‘[t]he heart of May Day celebrations has always been İstanbul’s busy Taksim Square. On May Day in 1977, also known as Bloody May Day, 37 people were killed when unknown assailants opened fire on the crowd. Since then, May Day in Turkey has always been a source of tension, and the square was officially declared off-limits to May Day demonstrators. In 2009, however, the government decided to make May Day an official holiday and opened up Taksim Square for celebrations, beginning in 2010. But last year, the government announced that it would not allow celebrations in Taksim Square due to construction going on there at the time. It has been prohibited again this year, with government officials simply saying that “Taksim is not a place for celebrations”‘.[1]

The report continues that ‘[m]ore than 60 civil society groups and labor unions intent on defying a government-imposed ban on celebrating May 1, officially known as Labor and Solidarity Day in Turkey, in İstanbul’s iconic Taksim Square have expressed their determination to rally in Taksim on Thursday [, 1 May]. The May Day Committee, made up of the Confederation of Revolutionary Workers’ Unions (DİSK), the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK), the Turkish Union of Engineers and Architects’ Chambers (TMMOB) and the Turkish Doctors Union (TTB), made a statement on Wednesday in which they reiterated their earlier resolve to be in Taksim on May Day. “We will be in Taksim despite the irrational and illegal ban,” said Kani Beko, head of DİSK, who spoke on behalf of the committee on Wednesday [, 30 April]. Beko accused the government of being inconsistent, as it was the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government which made May Day an official holiday and lifted the Taksim ban in 2010. He said that the committee had tried to keep the lines of communication with the government open, but “the only response we’ve gotten was an army of police being dispatched to Taksim on April 21.” On April 21, May Day Committee members attempted to read out a press statement in Taksim. However, their effort was interrupted by police intervention. Several union leaders were detained. Recalling that last year, the municipality suspended public transport to stop people from getting to Taksim, Beko said that such practices are illogical and unreasonable. He said the May Day Committee had tried to schedule an appointment with President Abdullah Gül, who turned them down saying he was busy. The DİSK chairman said the committee was preparing to celebrate a holiday and accused the police force of preparing for war. Beko reiterated that it is important for the unions to commemorate the victims of Bloody May Day’.[2]

On Wednesday, 30 April, the Istanbul’s governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu issued this statement: “Intelligence units have information showing that illegal terrorist organizations and their offshoot groups will resort to violence against security forces. It is such that not only public order and security in Taksim Square and its surroundings are at risk, but also the rights and freedoms of our citizens might be threatened”.[3]

 

[1] “İstanbul braces for Taksim showdown on May 1” Today’s Zaman (30 April 2014). http://www.todayszaman.com/news-346580-istanbul-braces-for-taksim-showdown-on-may-1.html.

[2] “İstanbul braces for Taksim showdown on May 1”.

[3] “Istanbul Governor’s Office says intel reports show ‘violence’ risk if Taksim allocated for May Day” Hürriyet Daily News (30 April 2014). http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/istanbul-governors-office-says-intel-reports-show-violence-risk-if-taksim-allocated-for-may-day.aspx?pageID=238&nID=65760&NewsCatID=341.

Twitter Censorship and Guilty Tweets: Tayyip Erdoğan Strikes Back

Cenk Uygur and the Young Turks’ team talk about Tayyip Erdoğan’s attempt to throttle the freedom to tweet as you please . . . (20 April 2014).

Already a week ago now, the news agency Reuters reported that “Turkey urged executives from Twitter to open an office and start paying Turkish tax on Monday [, 14 April] in the first direct talks since a two-week ban imposed on the site as the government battled a corruption scandal. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s government blocked Twitter and YouTube in March, drawing international condemnation, after audio recordings, purportedly showing corruption in his inner circle, were leaked on their sites. The block was lifted 10 days ago after the constitutional court ruled that it breached freedom of expression, a decision Erdogan has since said was wrong and should be overturned. YouTube remains largely blocked in Turkey. The prime minister on Saturday [, 12 April] accused Twitter of being a ‘tax evader’, repeating his combative stance ahead of the talks between his government and the San Francisco-based company”.[1]

As for the Gezi protesters who got arrested on account of their tweets, late in February Today’s Zaman reported that at “the first hearing of a trial of 29 Gezi protesters over messages they posted on Twitter, a lawyer of several defendants has demanded that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attend the next hearing to testify as he is named as the sole victim in the indictment. According to an indictment completed by an İzmir prosecutor last week, three years’ imprisonment is being sought for 29 Gezi protesters for the Twitter messages. In the indictment, Erdoğan is seen as the sole victim of the tweets that the protesters sent and the plaintiff is written as ‘civil law’ in the indictment. In the first hearing of the trial at the İzmir 1st Criminal Court on Monday, lawyer Can Onur told the court that if Erdoğan is the victim of the case, he should be called to testify. Another lawyer, Eren İlhan Güney, told the judge that Erdoğan is seen as the sole victim in the indictment, but the ‘actual victims are the protesters and their families in the courtroom’. The protesters’ Twitter messages are considered as an organized crime activity by the prosecutor who completed the indictment, Turkish media reported”.[2]

The report explains that “[d]uring [Gezi] protests on May 31, 2013, hundreds of people were detained but later released. Seventy-four protesters faced criminal charges of inciting violence and damaging public property as well as being members of terrorist organizations bent on destroying public order. The investigation started on June 5, 2013, by the İzmir Police Department’s Organized Crime Unit. Thirty-nine people were detained for Twitter messages which were considered offensive and provocative. In the indictment it was stated that 33 banks, 17 ATM machines, 75 shops, 10 houses, 20 police cars and 31 private cars were damaged but that there was no proof that the 29 on trial took part in these incidents”.[3]

 

[1] Orhan Çoşkun, ” Turkey accuses Twitter of ‘tax evasion’, calls for local office” Reuters (14 April 2014). http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/14/us-turkey-twitter-idUSBREA3D0TY20140414.

[2] “Gezi protests’ Twitter suspects demand Erdoğan testify as victim” Today’s Zaman (24 February 2014). http://www.todayszaman.com/news-340332-gezi-protests-twitter-suspects-demand-erdogan-testify-as-victim.html.

[3] “Gezi protests’ Twitter suspects demand Erdoğan testify as victim”.