Turkey and the West Part Ways on ‘Charlie Hebdo’

Turkey and the West Part Ways on ‘Charlie Hebdo’

Turkish reactions to the massacre in Paris once again reveal a growing gap with the West. While leaders and commentators in western countries immediately condemned the terrorists and presented a broadly unified stance denouncing the shocking attack on Charlie Hebdo as an act of violence against freedom of the press, Turkish leaders came up with a starkly different diagnosis: They interpreted last week’s events as yet another assault on Islam itself.

Freedom of the press, it would seem, is not high on the Turkish agenda at the moment. When the secular leftist newspaper Cumhuriyet decided to run a special issue of Charlie Hebdo today to show its solidarity, police raided the newspaper’s printing plant. Cumhuriyet said the police allowed distribution to proceed after verifying that Charlie Hebdo‘s controversial cover featuring the Prophet Muhammad wasn’t being published. Politicians were quick to follow up. “Those who publish some images in reference to our sublime prophet and thus disregard Muslims’ sacred [feelings] are involved in open provocation and agitation,” Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan said. Not only the ruling party but the judiciary, too, is offended by the Turkish media’s message of solidarity. A court in Diyarbakir has ordered the Turkish telecommunications authority to ban access to web pages showing Charlie Hebdo‘s front cover with the image of the Prophet Mohammed. Continue reading

Je Suis Charlie (Until Je Get Scared)

 

Je Suis Charlie (Until Je Get Scared)

The New York Times tweeted today that the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo, which found itself the victim of a gruesome massacre, “long tested the limits of satire.” I did not know that there were limits to satire or that the Gray Lady, which often unintentionally engages in the art form, had managed to uncover them. The implication here is one that will surely become as tediously explicit in the hours and days ahead as it is familiar: If you “provoke” Muslims by mocking their religion, then you’ve only yourself to blame for what happens next. Continue reading