Turkish president Erdogan's policy of castrating media alarming

Mohammad Behzad Fatmi
Mohammad Behzad FatmiMar 06, 2016 | 13:47

Turkish president Erdogan's policy of castrating media alarming

In a shameful move, the Justice and Development Party (AKP)-led Turkish government seized control of the media group which owns the most circulated newspaper in the country.

The Feza Media Group, which owns the largely-circulated Zaman and Today's Zaman newspapers and the Cihan News Agency, was one of the few critical media groups remaining in the country and had shown the courage of standing tall in the face of unprecedented government pressure and threat.


Although confiscating a media group is not new in the history of AKP rule in Turkey, the takeover of the Zaman newspaper' is an alarming blow to people's right to gain authentic and uncensored information in the country. Among all the print and electronic media available to Turkish readers and viewers, over 90 per cent are ardently pro-government.

The Zaman newspaper and its sister English daily Today's Zaman were literally the last mainstream publications with large-scale readership which did not toe the government's line. Now since they have been taken over, the only information that citizens in Turkey are likely to get from their mainstream national media will be what the ruling AKP wants them to know.

This is a dire state of affairs for any country and highlights the complete collapse of democracy there.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who harbours the ambition of becoming an "all-powerful" president, has shown utter intolerance towards critical media and blatantly disregarded the rule of law. The pro-government Turkish media has long been engaging in propaganda to shape public opinion in favour of Erdogan's dictatorial plans.


Though they have been successful in ensuring successive electoral victories for Erdogan and his party, the president's ambition of becoming all-powerful, requires constitutional amendments to fructify, and it has not gained takers among the masses yet.

Turkey is officially a parliamentary democracy and the president has limited authority. Erdogan who became president in 2014 after serving as prime minister since 2003 wants to amend the constitution and give himself the executive powers he currently does not have.

However, it is not factually incorrect that Erdogan has already been exercising executive powers despite the restrictions in the constitution. All he is desperate about now is to legitimise what he has already been doing.

He sees critical media as a significant hindrance to his ambitions as it counters the pro-government media's narrative and offers an alternative view, which ultimately helps prevent the shaping of popular opinion in his favour.

Time will tell if Erdogan will succeed or not in becoming a constitutionally protected dictator of Turkey, but even without becoming so he has destroyed crucial public institutions that serve as conscience of the society.

Last updated: March 06, 2016 | 13:47
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