Claim: Newspaper “voicing” Turkish government celebrates Orlando mass shooting

Time to read
3 minutes
Read so far

Claim: Newspaper “voicing” Turkish government celebrates Orlando mass shooting

2016-06-20 12:24 BST
Posted in:

Chris Pleasance in Daily Mail claims that Turkish newspaper Yeni Akit voices Turkish government and celebrates Orlando mass shooting

On 12 June 2016, a mass shooting in Orlonda took place inside a gay nightclub called Pulse

On 12 June 2016, Chris Pleasance had an article published in the Daily Mail in which he claimed that Yeni Akit, a Turkish newspaper, voices the Turkish government and added that the newspaper celebrated the Orlando mass shooting that killed 49 people on 12 June 2016.1 Pleasance was referring to the newspaper’s headline that broke the news of the shooting by saying the gay bar that was targeted was “where perverted homosexuals go”.

However, Turkey condemned the attack in a written statement issued by Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.2

In 2011, Yeni Akit was fined by the Supreme Court of Turkey for calling an LGBTI organization “pervert”.3On 8 May 2014, the Constitutional Court of Turkey ruled that referring to gays as “perverts” constitutes hate speech.4

Moreover, Pleasance repeatedly claimed in the article that Yeni Akit has strong ties to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He points out the newspaper’s  support for Erdogan and its free circulation, while alleging that there is a crackdown on opposition media.

However, Pleasance’s statements regarding the crackdown on negative headlines about the Erdogan administration are distorted, as pro-opposition national dailies in Turkey such as Cumhuriyet, Sozcu, Birgun, Ozgür Gundem, Sol, Evrensel, Taraf, Meydan, Aydinlik, Yarina Bakis, Yurt, Yeni Mesaj, Milli Gazete, Yenicag and Ortadogu publish negative headlines regularly.

Secondly, Pleasance claims that three journalists were killed by the Turkish government due to their work, referring to Syrians Ibrahim Abdulqader, Fares Hamadi and Naji al-Jerf. However, this is a misinformation because they were assassinated by DAESH.5 All three journalists were at the same time activists producing documentaries against DAESH and the terrorist organization claimed responsibility for their murder. Turkish police launched a wide-scale operation after these incidents and tens of suspects were arrested.

Thirdly, Pleasance says “Accreditation for journalists was also brought under further government control, allowing officials to handpick reporters for prominent positions.” However, there is no relation between accreditation and appointment. Accreditation is the process of evaluation of international journalists who are assigned to Turkey. Neither members of the international media nor domestic media are appointed to different positions by the government. Owners and executive editors of media organizations position journalists autonomously.

After all these ungrounded arguments, Pleasance concludes that, “Because of this, publications that are allowed to operate freely - such as Akit - are seen to be voicing the de-facto views of Erdogan and his regime.” However, the discourse and policy of this far-right newspaper that has a low circulation is very distant from that of Erdogan. While Yeni Akit, as mentioned in the text, uses hate speech against Jews, Christians as well as the LGBTI community, Turkey has seen improvements in minority rights  of these groups since the AK Party founded by Erdogan came to power in 2002. Many obstacles for minorities that had been in place since the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 were lifted by his administration. For more information please read here.

Mentioning some of these improvements, more than a thousand previously expropriated land were returned to Jewish and Christian communities. The world’s third largest synagogue in Edirne was restored by the government and opened in 2015. On 29 May 2016, a Jewish wedding ceremony was held in this synagogue for the first time in 41 years. Many Jewish people attended the ceremony and prayed for President Erdogan. In 2015, the Jewish holiday Hanukkah was publicly celebrated for the first time in the history of Turkey. In January 2016, the historical Istipol Synagogue in Istanbul re-opened after 65 years. On 8 January 2016, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan received representatives of the Turkish Jewish Community, including Chief Rabbi Izak Haleva, the President of the Turkish Jewish Community, Ishak Ibrahimzadeh and Honorary President of the Turkish-Jewish Community, Bensiyon Pinto. Rabbi Haleva conveyed his gratitude to President Erdogan for the positive steps, taken in recent years regarding the rights of religious communities in Turkey.6 For Christian communities, neglected and torn down churches were renovated and given back their official status. A curriculum was prepared for Christian students. For the LGBTIs, the first pride parades was organized in 2003 and this has been continuing since then annually. LGBT organizations for the first time legally institutionalized under AK Party rule. Many new organizations were formed. In 2011, the Minister of Family and Social Policy, Fatma Sahin, met with a LGBTI organization and submitted a proposal to the parliament for the acceptance of LGBT individuals in the new constitution afterwards. For more information please read here.7