The other day I was thinking about how to make this blog more representative of the rich diversity of opinion in Turkey, and I struck upon the idea of asking my good friend and distinguished news columnist Yalçın Bulut to write a guest posting. Unfortunately Mr Bulut was busy with an important new job, but he recommended that I contact his equally distinguished colleague Mr Yiğit Akdoğan, who despite his intensive schedule was eager to write on the subject of journalism in Turkey. I hope you find his thoughts enlightening:
Westerners who pretend to know about Turkey but in fact know nothing often naively believe that anyone imprisoned who is a journalist must be imprisoned unjustly.
Ignoring the fact that our Prime Minister has said these people are murderers and terrorists, they harp on as if journalists, unlike everyone else, should be exempt from incarceration.
What these Orientalist Islamophobes do not understand is that journalism is one of the most dangerous weapons ever devised by the hand of man. A book, as our Prime Minister has suggested, may in fact be a bomb.
When wielding the pen, one must therefore handle it with the utmost care, and be always mindful of one’s civic duty, which is this: do not upset the delicate ship of state – particularly at times when that ship is navigating perilous waters.
In recent months, some of our news organizations have been criticized by foreigners for the manner in which they covered the terrorist riots known as the ‘Gezi Park’ events. In fact, they deserve praise.
When chaos grips the country, and when thousands of angry marginals are doing their best to turn the centres of our cities into war-zones, what is the responsibility of the press?
Is it to emulate the foreign media: incontinently, maliciously covering the events, crowding into the squares with their television cameras, beaming them across the world, fuelling the fire?
Fortunately, some of our media organizations understood that the moral core of their profession is not to cast a hasty eye until the government has explained to them what is going on.
In the absence of certainty, they took the responsible course: Noble Silence.
Of course, we now know very well that they were right to do so. Like many of us, they sensed almost instantly that there was an ugly plan behind these ‘protests’. The fact that they were able to discern this without the support of any evidence is a testament to their sharp instincts and acumen.
Our enemies, lurking in their boardrooms and greedily eyeing opportunities to leech off us, sprung their trap. We know very well who they are, but naming them would only make us the target of ill-founded and Islamophobic accusations.
In concert with their local allies and other international forces who have long plotted Turkey’s downfall, they set in motion the events we call “Gezi Park”. This is now a well-established fact affirmed by everyone apart from those who deny it, and who therefore must be criminally involved in it.
In fact, the sinister nature of the Gezi Park events is so plainly evident that we can only regard with the deepest suspicion any ‘journalist’ who gives them the oxygen of publicity without clearly emphasising the dark games that lie beyond.
Some of these so-called ‘reporters’ have gone further, violating all norms of Turkish newsgathering by publishing information that has subsequently been proven to be false.
Inaccuracy, as we well know, is anathema to the newsman. Is it really credible that some of our national newspapers actually believed that a young man in Hatay could have died after being struck in the head by a police tear gas canister?
To this question, some of our naïve Western friends may perhaps answer ‘yes’. What these arrogant, biased simpletons do not know, however, is that in Turkey there is a dark history of collusion between the press and the tutelage structure nested within the state.
All too often in the past, it was the journalist who acted as midwife to the coup monger, slyly wiping his dirty hands in mock innocence after delivering the screaming, bloody babe of military rule.
No, false reports of the kind we saw during Gezi are terror, plain and simple, and I applaud every effort by our citizens and courts to bring these malefactors to justice.
In shepherding us towards the sunny uplands of Advanced Democracy, one of the enlightened measures of our current government has been to reform the country’s anti-terror laws.
Thanks to this, Turkey has become by far the most successful country in the world in identifying and imprisoning terrorists. Here we are not so naïve as to believe that a terrorist is simply a man with a bomb or a gun skulking in the mountains.
A terrorist is the 19-year-old university student shouting ‘Hükümet istifa!’ A terrorist is the radical leftist ‘environmentalist’ who tweeted for her to go out onto the streets in open rebellion. A terrorist is the hack with sedition in his heart, cynically recording the student’s actions then broadcasting her rebellion across the country.
I fervently anticipate the day when all these terrorists are in prison, the foreign provocateurs have been rooted out and sent packing back to their governments, and the rest of us can live in peace.
It cannot be long now.