Category Archives: Turkey

Obama BFF Turkey Blocks 68,000 ‘Blasphemous’ Websites, Including Charlie Hebdo

The number of websites blocked in Turkey is approaching 68,000 with the recent addition of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s official site, as well as specific pages from the country’s most popular Internet forums.

The latest bans came after the government appealed to a local court, citing blasphemy laws. The Feb. 27 ruling of the Ankara Gölbaşı Civil Court of Peace came soon after the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB), a government body, filed a criminal complaint.

The ruling imposes a blanket ban on the websites of Charlie Hebdo and Turkey’s first atheism association, while blocking individual pages of Ekşi Sözlük (Sour Dictionary) and İnci Sözlük (Pearl Dictionary), two hugely popular forums, as well as pages on news website T24, which recently published the controversial Charlie Hebdo cartoons.

The court imposed sanctions on a total of 49 websites, ruling that they “humiliated the religious values of the people.”

In its criminal complaint, the TİB claimed that “insults against religious and holy values could breach public peace.” It enforced the court’s ruling for many of the targeted websites on March 3, although it acted quicker for a number of others.

Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Code stipulates prison sentences for blasphemy, as well as “provoking the people for hate and enmity or degrading them.” Linguist Sevan Nişanyan was sentenced in May 2013 to 13.5 months in prison for a blog post and world-renowned pianist Fazıl Say was sentenced to 10 months in jail for a tweet, both for violating Article 216.

Atheism Association Spokesperson Onur Romano issued a statement on March 3, inviting people to visit or, two mirror domains that are still accessible in Turkey.

“They haven’t told us what exactly we did wrong according to the law. Please take a look and tell us what we did wrong,” Romano said.

67,600 and counting

Although it is the first digital ban targeting the Atheism Association, which is less than a year old, other “convicts” have previously experienced similar sanctions.

Ekşi Sözlük and İnci Sözlük, two online dictionaries in which any user can send not-always-objective-nor-factual entries, have been routinely targeted by Turkish authorities. Ekşi Sözlük was blocked in 2007 and İnci Sözlük in 2011.

Certain pages of Charlie Hebdo’s website, on the other hand, had been blocked in Turkey for hosting Prophet Muhammad cartoons on Jan. 14, soon after 12 of its employees were murdered at the magazine’s headquarters in Paris.

More than 67,600 websites are currently blocked in Turkey, according to the independent monitoring website, Engelli Web.

In 2014, the TİB blocked 22,645 websites without a court order, according to the Human Rights Association’s (İHD) latest report citing Engelli Web.

Since Ankara imposed or threatened to impose blanket bans on Facebook and Twitter, both social media platforms have been complying with the requests of Turkish officials to remove or withhold controversial content, whether or not there is a court ruling.

Egypt Court to Hear Case to Designate Obama BFF’s in Turkey a Terror Sponsor

An Egyptian court will hear a lawsuit that will require the government to designate Turkey a “state that supports terrorism.”

As reported on Middle East Monitor (MEM) that cited an anonymous source from the Anadolu Agency (a Turkish news service), “The court of urgent matters in the coastal city of Alexandria scheduled the first hearing in the case for Feb. 24.”

Tarek Mahmoud, an Egyptian lawyer, reportedly filed the case. Mahmoud plans to argue that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan supports the Muslim Brotherhood movement, which was declared a terrorist organization by Egypt in December of 2013.

A “judicial source” cited by MEM said that Mahmoud also will claim that Turkey is a primary source for arms entering Egypt that are used by terrorists.

“Turkey adopts hostile stances against Egypt after it became a haven for Muslim Brotherhood leaders who face criminal charges in Egypt,” said the judicial source quoting the lawsuit filed by Mahmoud.

Muslim Brotherhood-linked television stations based in Turkey have been calling on supporters to use violent means in Egypt in an attempt to overthrow President Sisi and his government and return the country to Muslim Brotherhood rule.

The Muslim Brotherhood has also been designated as a terrorist organization by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The official Muslim Brotherhood representative in Turkey, Ashraf Abdulgaffar, made a similar call, advocating a policy of “an eye for an eye.” He said: “We are now in the retaliation phase. They [Sisi’s government] must taste pain, because there are traitors. My message to the Egyptian people is this: Stand firm and be ready for all sacrifices and prices to be paid.”

Other statements went much further. A “communique” issued by an organization claiming to be the “Revolutionary Youth,” and broadcast on Muslim Brotherhood Rabia TV, threatened to launch terrorist attacks on foreign nationals in Egypt. The televised statement gave all foreign nationals until February 11 to leave Egypt, saying “after that they may become targeted by the movements of revolutionary retribution.”

The communique went on to threaten foreign businesses saying, “All foreign companies operating on Egyptian soil have an opportunity until February 20 to withdraw all their franchises from Egypt and cease their operations.” If they do not do so, the group threatens, “all their projects may be targeted by the rebels.”

Muhammed Nasir, a commentator on the Brotherhood-linked Misr al An TV was just as blunt saying: “It is time to begin armed struggle.”

Both of these Brotherhood TV stations are based in Turkey.

This follows the call for “long and unrelenting jihad” that the Brotherhood published on their Arabic website last week.

Israeli intelligence has reportedly concluded that Turkey has been the top financial sponsor of Hamas (the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood) since 2012, with Erdogan arranging for the transfer of $250 million to the terrorist group annually. Another report puts the figure at $300 million. The funding comes from private sources Erdogan is close to and not from the government budget. Turkey is also said to have trained Hamas militant forces in Gaza through non-governmental groups.