The Turkish press comments on Erdogan’s crackdown on the media
Emanuela Pergolizzi 23 December 2014

“Happy Birthday, New Turkey”

The famous satirical magazine Uykusuz began the week publishing on its front page a cartoon depicting a shoe box – the key symbol of the corruption investigation that started on December 17th, 2013 – and a birthday candle. The caption read “journalists in prison…restrictions for the press…shoe boxes…New Turkey is one year old.”

On Tuesday, December 17th, newspapers closer to the government and those siding with the opposition widely reported on the anniversary of the corruption investigation that last year involved key members of government circles, marking the beginning of a faceoff between those loyal to the Islamic preacher Fetullah Gülen and those siding with Racep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Cumhuriyet and Sözcü, daily newspapers of Kemalist inspiration and close to the CHP opposition party, called the week from December 17th to the 25th, “the week of thieves and the battle against corruption”, and launched the campaign “we have not forgotten and will not allow you to forget.” Furthermore, while from the columns of Cumhuriyet Ahmet Şık, the legendary Turkish journalist Ahmet Şık revisited the phases of the rift between the “enemies-brothers” Erdoğan and Gülen, in Zaman, Faruk Alan and Ömer Keskin instead presented a ‘via crucis’ of freedom of expression and the rule of law in Turkey, with social media blocked, the replacement and transfer of six thousand judges and the introduction of arrests for all “moderate suspicion.”

Papers closer to the government responded with the journalist Kübra Par interview of the AKP Member of Parliament and director of the investigative committee for last year’s scandal. “We will not close the matter […] We are not trying to hide anything. […] We are doing our best and the investigation continues. [..] We devote a great deal of time to it and hope we will reach the right decision.“

“The free press cannot be silenced”

After the roundup on Sunday, December 14th, the daily newspaper Zaman, currently at the epicentre of attention, has been following, step by step, events concerning its editor-in-chief Ekrem Dumanli, arrested together with the director of the television network Samanyolu – also part of the media close to Gülen. Day by day it has been revealed that the two suspects, questioned only 80 hours after being arrested, are charged with conspiring against the state on the basis of one news report and two columns. 

They are supported in a number of newspapers with a page dedicated to a petition launched by important left-wing journalists, as well as those belonging to the historical Turkish Right such as Nazli Ilıcak or Cengiz Çandar, with, as a symbol, a hand holding a pen, but it is a chained hand, and the slogan: “the free press cannot be silenced.”

The original version of this article was published on

Translation by Francesca Simmons