Turkish magazine raided over presidential 'selfie'

Magazine charged with 'insulting’ Recep Erdogan and 'making terrorist propaganda' in police crackdown

Nokta
(Image credit: Nokta magazine)

Turkish police have raided a news magazine and detained one of its senior editors over a mock-up on its cover depicting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan taking a selfie at a soldier's funeral.

Nokta magazine was searched by counterterrorism police and copies of its latest edition were seized after the cover was published online, Reuters reports.

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The image relates to comments made by Erdogan at the funeral of a Turkish soldier who died fighting Kurdish militants. "How happy is his family and all his close relatives, because Ahmet has reached a very sacred place," he was quoted as saying in the Turkish press.

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An Istanbul prosecutor's office said the magazine now faced charges of "insulting the Turkish president" and "making terrorist propaganda". Nokta's editor-in-chief Cevheri Guven later tweeted: "Once they accuse you of terrorist propaganda, anything can happen."

The image was inspired by a similar photomontage of Tony Blair by British political artists Peter Kennard and Cat Phillipps. Explaining their cover, Nokta said: "Erdogan said martyrdom is a cause for happiness.

"People take selfies when they feel happy. Our cover is ironic and carries a high dose of criticism."

Engin Altay, deputy head of the opposition Republican Peoples' Party's (CHP) in Turkey, condemned the raid as "unacceptable" and accused Erdogan of being a "dictator" for cracking down on media critical of the government.

"Dictators become more and more cruel, anxious and intolerant when they start to feel like they are losing power," he told Deutsche Welle. "Criticizing Erdogan has become the biggest crime in Turkey."

In the last two weeks alone, three foreign journalists have been arrested and deported from Turkey, the headquarters of independent newspaper Hürriyet have been attacked by crowds that included one of Erdogan's own MPs and police have raided a company that includes another opposition media group.

The media crackdown coincides with escalating violence across the country and the deterioration of a fragile peace deal with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

"Never has there been a greater need for independent and impartial media scrutiny, for journalists to shed light on the dark," says Emma Sinclair-Webb, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch.

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