Turkish journalists sentenced to two years in jail for reprinting Charlie Hebdo cover

May 3, 2016

By Reuters Staff

A Turkish court sentenced two journalists to two years in jail for blasphemy on Thursday, their newspaper said, after they reprinted a controversial cover from the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo above their columns last year.

The judgement is likely to inflame concerns about freedom of expression in Turkey, where opposition newspapers have been seized and a number of journalists have been sued for insulting President Tayyip Erdogan.

Ceyda Karan and Hikmet Cetinkaya, columnists for Cumhuriyet daily, had faced jail terms of up to 4-1/2 years for “insulting religious values” after they reprinted the caricature of the Prophet Mohammad following the January 2015 attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

Muslim Turkey’s constitution strictly separates state and religion but its penal code makes it a crime to insult religion. For Muslims, any depiction of the Prophet is blasphemous.

“We will appeal (the ruling). We will not leave this country to fascists in Islam sauce,” Karan said on Twitter.


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14 comments on “Turkish journalists sentenced to two years in jail for reprinting Charlie Hebdo cover

  • @OP – The judgement is likely to inflame concerns about freedom of expression in Turkey, where opposition newspapers have been seized and a number of journalists have been sued for insulting President Tayyip Erdogan.

    Turkey needs to decide if it wants to be part of civilised Europe, or if it wants to revert to the backwardness of Islamic tribalism!



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  • Turkey is on the long slow slide backwards to an uncivilized state. The EU should be politely but forcefully remind Turkey that membership of a civilized organization places requirements on all members. Freedom of the press being paramount. Plus a long list of other transgressions by this current Turkish regime.



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  • What’s the delay in getting Turkey into the EU? I think the sooner the better then every time a character from a medieval fairytale passes a sentence like this the court of human rights can slap them down right away.



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  • There’s every chance of Turkey joining the Eu as they hold a big bargaining chip with the migrant crisis – that’s politics. In any case they can simply point at Ireland’s blasphemy law or Polands abortion laws (recently changed so that there are no exceptions – even rape and incest ) as examples of member states who have religiously orientated criminal systems.



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  • mr_DNA #5
    May 4, 2016 at 8:39 am: Ireland’s blasphemy law

    Don’t be quite so hard on us mr DNA. The law was passed as it is a requirement of the eighty year old constitution, which is notoriously difficult to change. Any attempt to tamper with religious privilege is incredibly divisive, as the Opus Dei crowd and their various front organisations immediately mobilise their considerable funds, and remaining political clout and start a crusade. It is also expensive and disruptive of political life, as ministers and MPs have to stomp around the country trying to whip up votes, thus neglecting their other more important work running the country.

    The solution arrived at, was to pass a law as required by the constitution, but make it so arcane that it could never be enforced. No one has been prosecuted under the law, though Paddy Power, the Turf Accountants withdrew an advert with a parody of The Last Supper, but I suspect more on the grounds of taste than fear of the law (or Lord?).



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  • Reckless Monkey #3
    May 3, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    This is so sad, I remember feeling quite optimistic around the time of the Arab Spring. It all however seems to be turning to crap.

    The problem with “the Arab Spring”, was that it was a western propagandists wish-thinking fantasy!

    “Liberating” jihadists from “repressive regimes”, does not cause the regimes to default to democracy! – Especially when the forms of democracy which elected George W. Bush as president and which are selecting Trump as a potential candidate, are visible to people overseas!



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  • Our governments should not look the other way at this nonsense. Left unchecked it will only get worse. The key is to figure out some sanction that will hurt those responsible and leave everyone else alone.



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  • 9
    fadeordraw says:

    About 8 years ago, we visited Istanbul and toured Asian Turkey. We were totally impressed by the progressive approaches to economic development, healthcare, education, infrastructure and the wonderful optimism that was pervasive. Tayyip Erdoğan, former mayor of Istanbul and the then Prime Minister, was credited with the successes that seemed totally aligned with Turkey’s secularism, as constitutionally incorporated by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in the 1920s. Today, we would not be able to freely have such a fine time. Erdoğan increasingly has sought totalitarian-like controls, including implementing Islamic practices, repressing opposition and a free press. Indeed, it appears he took lessons from Vladimir Putin on staying in power by getting around term requirements for leadership. He’s now President. “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. I don’t think Turkey today would be considered a democracy and, although Erdoğan has chess plays given the Syrian war and refugee crisis, it likely does not yet meet criteria for its wanted (maybe) membership in the EU. Given such a promising future, there’s a profound disappointing sadness in the way it all has unfolded for Turkey.



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  • fadeordraw #9
    May 4, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    I don’t think Turkey today would be considered a democracy and, although Erdoğan has chess plays given the Syrian war and refugee crisis, it likely does not yet meet criteria for its wanted (maybe) membership in the EU.

    He has bargaining chips, in the deal with the EU to take refugees and asylum seekers back from Greece! It looks like Turks may get free access to the EU.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-36188558

    The European Commission will back visa-free travel for Turkish citizens inside Europe’s passport-free Schengen area, sources have told the BBC.

    Visa liberalisation was offered in return for Turkey taking back migrants who crossed the Aegean Sea to Greece.

    But Turkey must still meet EU criteria, and the visa deal needs approval by the European Parliament and member states.

    The EU fears that without this deal, Turkey will not control migration.

    The waiver would scrap the requirement for Turks to get a three-month, short-stay Schengen visa, for tourism or business trips. But it will not grant Turks the right to get a job in Europe.

    The UK, Ireland and Cyprus are not in Schengen, so they will keep the visa requirement for Turkey.



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  • It seems that even after the resignation of the Turkish Prime Minister, Erdogan is not interested in listening to reasoning!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-36229468

    Turkey’s president has told the EU it will not change its anti-terror laws in return for visa-free travel.

    Referring to tents erected by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, near the EU parliament in Brussels, Mr Erdogan said: “You [the EU] will let terrorists build tents and provide them with opportunities in the name of democracy.

    “And then [you] will tell us ‘if you change this [anti-terrorism legislation], I will lift the visas’. Sorry, we’ll go our way, you go yours.”

    BBC Turkey correspondent Mark Lowen says Mr Erdogan’s hard rhetoric will please his support base but will alarm European leaders.

    In recent months, he says, the government has used the terms “terrorist” or “terrorist supporter” to prosecute critics including journalists, suggesting they are supporting Kurdish militants or other armed organisations.

    If Mr Erdogan does not meet the EU requirements, the European Parliament and EU leaders will not vote on the visa waiver at the end of June and, our correspondent says, the whole deal could fall apart.



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