Blog Writers Hauled To Police Station For Allegedly Insulting Religion

Turkey’s Ekşi Sözlük (“Sour Dictionary”) has been one of the country’s favorite web repositories of frequently witty, occasionally irreverent user-generated knowledge for the past 12 years. But the country’s largest collaborative discussion platform and hypertext dictionary made headlines last week when 50 of its members were taken in by the police and charged with insulting religion.

“The police found my IP address and I was suddenly taken in from my home. I was charged for my comments on religion,” said one of the writers who wanted to remain anonymous…

Since the 2007 passage of article 5651, Turkish law has legally distinguished Internet regulations from those imposed on other media. The law classifies eight violations which can prompt the closing of a website: prostitution, child pornography, gambling, obscenity, promoting suicide, facilitating drug abuse, provision of unapproved substances for health care, and insulting Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, modern Turkey’s founder.

Besides these categories, anyone who thinks that a web site is “suspicious” can call the police. The owner may then be taken in, or the police may confiscate their computer until the case is resolved…  Currently there are about 1 million banned websites in Turkey. Among the previously blocked and re-opened sites are YouTube, Google Groups, WordPress, and Dailymotion… (click here for the full article)

19 Responses to “Blog Writers Hauled To Police Station For Allegedly Insulting Religion”

  1. “Blog Writers Hauled To Police Station For Allegedly Insulting Religion Adnan Oktar’s Sensitivities

  2. And they are not ‘blog writers’ nor are there ‘about 1 million banned websites in Turkey.’ Oh and note how TCK-216 which is underlying all this isn’t mentioned in the piece and neither is you-know-who who appears to have triggered the investigation. HDN is ‘Hurriyet’ after all and it shows. I mean ‘a respected publication’ — in the terminology of this blog.

  3. The number of banned Web sites is in the (tens of) thousands, not millions. As I see it, the problems are that:

    It takes only one complaint to bring a Web site down.
    The BTK/TIB is opaque and has no oversight. They don’t even tell you who complained about your site, and on what grounds it was blocked.
    The laws that cause the problem (such as 261, 5651, 301) are supported by various segments of society.

  4. Years back, our bureaucracy was speaking of requiring all site owners/publishers to register with appropriate state authority and submit to them printed copies of site contents in triplicate after every change. The mentality has since evolved and adapted, which means it is still alive.

  5. Emre,
    It takes only one complaint to bring a Web site down.
    Not even that, the bureaucrat in charge apparently said his staff googles for porn etc. and blocks.
    The BTK/TIB is opaque and has no oversight. They don’t even tell you who complained about your site, and on what grounds it was blocked.
    And they want to say even less. Again the bureaucrat in charge would rather have things simply not work w/o any sign of their interference.
    Anyway, the blocking of sites and cops showing up on ES users doorsteps for an TCK-216 investigation are somewhat separate issues. Turkish people on the ‘net basically existed under US jurisdiction up till a few years ago. Now Turkish jurisdiction is making itself felt. Just like the way people who thought they could boo the president or sing ‘ampul whatever‘ ended up dealing with cops/courts so will people who say/publish ‘insulting'[1] things about religion. This is not really a free country in that regard, and its portion of the ‘net will not be free when the same laws apply. What’s happening is nothing new, really.
    [1] Sometimes it is funny. Apparently Fatih Altayli sued about insults and got some entries about him removed. Some of those entries were simply quotations from his own columns.
    Sometimes it is funny in another diection. Yusuf Kaplan tried to pick a fight with them and this time ES sued and forced him to publish a correction.

  6. Hhahaha Nihat, you were dealing with the ‘net in Turkey back then? Yes, that draft regulation existed but was never enacted AFAIR. I believe that’s how they prefer to deal with any publication and saw web sites as ‘publications.’ Note how they still investigate books etc. They also imposed licensure pretty early on (that’s another way to facilitate control). The holographic stickers on books (an anti-piracy measure) is also centralized and gov’t run. I occasionally see mentions of ‘sticker problems’ about iffy books too. I’m not sure if it is illegal to print books w/o those stickers — it may well be.
    BTW ‘blocking’ was always avaliable as an option, but in the early days it was about PKK Dev-Sol etc. and wasn’t DNS-based. The prosecutors would send lists of IPs to ISPs to be filtered at a packet level.

  7. Some of the offending entries that the police apparently told their authors about are linked from here: (you need to skim the entries for links)

  8. This can’t have been planned, of course, but by the look of things, I will not be at all surprised if a certain crop of ES’s authors/members get harvested [*] in order to leave the field wide open to the ‘sakirt’s they had invited in a couple years ago.
    [*: by ‘harvested’ I don’t mean anything brutal; just that these scare tactics will make sure they will leave in hordes –which, apparently, they already are doing.]

  9. Dr. White, where is your server located? Are we (me mainly) going to get into trouble for all our (my) anti-Islamist comments?
    I want to be able to enjoy good raki and fish meals when I get out to Turkey next week.
    BTW, there appears to be problem again in posting comments, one of my earlier ones did not appear the first time.

  10. My spam machine went beserk and has been eating everything and everyone, so I’ve restored what I could find. Sorry. Inexplicable.

  11. Bulac and Alkan on this issue (scroll for video):

  12. Takma adla yazanın ifade özgürlüğü olmaz!

    On the contrary, in Turkey it’s the only way to be free 😉

  13. Eksi Sozluk sues people too:
    I read the piece (linked from above) that apparently will cost Altayli or his paper 7500TL + his lawyers fees + hassle. That one can even be sued for that — even if he didn’t lose — should be chilling, especially to ES users. Perhaps one should not blame a commercial entity like ES for exploiting the existing legal climate but if the law/courts will work like this, the ‘net cannot work the way we’re used to. BTW, Altayli, his paper and many ES authors do deserve the the adjectives they use about each other, IMHO.

  14. Now I know where the number comes from: İnternette sansür yok ama 1 milyon site yasaklı

    …TİB, internet kafeler için 1 milyonun üstünde sitenin erişiminin engellenmesi emri verdi, hem de hiç bir idari tedbir kararı almadan.

  15. On the subject of Adnan Oktar: Richard Dawkins’e sansür kalktı

  16. Thanks for the follow-up Emre.

  17. More TCK-216 action:
    Let’s see, AKP with 49.9% support constantly uses rhetoric based on KK’s Alevism and CHP, in turn, with 25.9% support cannot think of anything other than filing criminal complaints in response. Electoral support for secular attitudes, avoidance of cheap sectarianism and freedom of expression is staggering.

  18. Oh yes, Kilicdaroglu sues too: from here:
    Bir başka gazetecinin “Dava açmayı düşünüyor musunuz?” sorusuna da Kılıçdaroğlu, “Açılacak. Benim dudaklarım da temiz geçmişim de temiz, ellerim de temiz. Kirli olanlar, zaten bu tür ifadeleri kullanırlar. Temiz adam böyle bir şey kullanır mı, düzgün insan böyle bir şeyi kullanır mı, ahlaklı insan bu tür laflar kullanır mı? Onların hepsi Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’ın kültüründen geliyor zaten. Ahlakından geliyor, temiz olmamasından geliyor, geçmişinin temiz olmamasından geliyor. Olay bu” yanıtını verdi.
    Nice going. When they take break from suing each other they’ll start talking about ‘libertarian’ constitutions and how much they want them.

  19. […] terms for “openly [denigrating] the religious values of a part of the population.” Previously, satirical websites and cartoonists have also been prosecuted under this statute.  The complaints against Say stem […]

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