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Turkey's freedom of speech Turkey's freedom of speech
by Thanos Kalamidas
2006-10-14 10:30:45
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How odd is that? A member of the Turkish parliament, after a long speech full of threats against France, finishes by saying that by approving this law France proves that it lacks freedom of speech, while the same member of the Turkish parliament has voted for a law that ensures imprisonment for mentioning the Armenian genocide or the Kurdish state, even if you are a fictional hero in a novel.

To start with, as the French president and the French government said, this law has to go a long way before becoming active and it is most likely that it never will; anyway, how can a country like Turkey even dare talk about freedom of speech? A country where there is no freedom of speech at all. It's only weeks since Elif Shafak had to face a court because one of her heroes in her novel dared mention the Armenian genocide (Read more in OviPedia ) and she found herself in danger of imprisonment - nobody really knows what would have happened to her if the international community, especially the EU, hadn't reacted immediately.

Turkey's Prime Minister Erdogan, before being elected as prime minister, he had similar problems with the law when it actually imprisoned him for a short period just because he said something in one of his speeches. Later, after changing the necessary laws and changing them back, the very same prime minister used the same laws to take a cartoonist to court because he didn't like a cartoon with him as a central character. Then it was newspapers closing, reporters being threatened and occasionally imprisoned. Is this how Turkey understands freedom of speech?

Going even further, the Armenian genocide is part of the Ottoman Empire's acts and it was not the only one. Actually, the Ottoman Empire had enslaved most of the neighbour countries around today's Turkey. The natural question is, does today's Turkey feel responsible for the actions of a long dead empire and if the answer is yes then Turkey is actually a threat for its neighbours, since a lot that has been heard for old glories and greater Turkey includes enslaving many of its neighbours.

So perhaps before Turkey starts talking about freedom of speech, it must clear up a few issues. One of the things Turkey has to 'sort out' is the illegal military occupation of a European Union member for over thirty years now. At this very minute, Turkey occupies part of a full EU member country with an army that is unbelievable high compared to the size of the local population.

Returning to the issue of freedom of speech, Turkey has too many issues of its own to correct before it can even utter one syllable about freedom of speech in France. I have said it before and I'm saying it again: Turkey endangers herself by crying wolf all the time. The fact that Turkey will recognise an Algerian genocide committed by the French sounds like a childish joke more than anything else does.

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