Claim: Erdogan shuts down media speaking against hate crimes

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Claim: Erdogan shuts down media speaking against hate crimes

2016-04-14 07:34 BST
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Louis Fishman in Haaretz claims Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shuts down media speaking against hate crimes

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan receives representatives from Jewish communities in Washington D.C, US on 30 March 2016.

On 5 April 2015, Louis Fishman had an article published in the Israeli daily Haaretz about Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s meeting with American Jewish leaders. He claimed that American Jewish leaders ignored anti-Semitism in Turkey by meeting with Erdogan because Erdogan is a leader who shuts down media that speaks against hate crimes while pro-government press spreads anti-Semitism.1 He stated:

Indeed, if anti-Semitism in Turkey really was a burning issue for those U.S. Jewish groups, it’s ironic they sat down to meet the president who’s shutting down and sanctioning precisely those critical media outlets who speak out against hate crimes, while the pro-government press is still free to spread anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry.

However, contrary to the claims, some media organs had trustees appointed to them due to their relations with terrorist organizations, and were not shut down. On 3 March 2016, a Turkish court had decided to appoint trustees for the Feza Gazetecilik media group which includes the daily Zaman and its English language publication Today’s Zaman, as well as the Cihan News Agency and Aksiyon magazine.2 The decision came upon accusations that the outlets were supporting the Gulenist terror organization, which is a clandestine group headed by US-based Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen that has infiltrated the country’s institutions including the judiciary, the army, the police and the intelligence services. The organization is accused of conspiring against the state, wiretapping thousands of people including government officials and encrypting phones. Another court decision on the appointment of trustees was given to the Koza Ipek Holding on 26 October 2015 after the holding was suspected of illegal money transfers to provide financial support for the Gulenist terror organization.3 Trustees were appointed to all 23 companies of the holding including four media organs - the Bugun and Kanalturk TV channels and the Bugun and Millet newspapers. 
 
Instead of speaking against hate crimes, these media organs themselves were committing such crimes. Nefretsoylemi.org, a project by the Hrant Dink Foundation watching out for hate crimes in Turkish newspapers, gives different examples of hate crimes found in the Zaman and Bugun newspapers.4 An example is an article that appeared in the Bugun newspaper on 25 March 2015 that accuses Syrian refugees of increasing crime rate in Turkey.5 Another article published by Bugun on 27 April 2014 includes statements insulting the Roma community.6 Two articles in the Zaman newspaper include hate crimes against Armenians published on 12 February 20147 and on 27 February 2014.8