Turkey and the media are again in the news as a Turkish court has ordered Facebook to block pages insulting the prophet of Islam.
(The court is) threatening to stop access to the whole social networking site if it does not comply, state broadcaster TRT reported.
It should be noted that this is a single court’s decision and not the government. Facebook has apparently already taken down one page in response to as the report puts is ‘a valid legal request’.
The court order is the latest move to crack down on material seen as offending religious sensibilities in the largely Muslim nation, where the government of President Tayyip Erdogan is widely seen as pursuing an Islamist-leaning agenda.
This is key as Erdogan is seen as positioning himself as a sort of neo-Ottoman sultan for the Muslims and what better way to position himself than to play up one of the most sacred cards in the Muslim world. After the Charlie Hebdo tragedy, there is a lot of anger in certain parts of the Muslim world and Erdogan is seemingly taking advantage of this. However, there may be more than meets the eye and religion may be a scapegoat to cover a more political motive.
Last week, the Turkish government proposed stricter internet laws in response to among other things, an anonymous whistle blower on twitter who had exposed corruption within the Turkish government.
And last year:
…Erdogan vowed to “eradicate” Twitter after allegations of government corruption were published on the micro-blogging site.
The comment and actions above appear to show a government who is seeking greater control of the internet in order to protect itself. Blocking websites that do not tow the line is nothing new when it comes to the information war. The Turkish drive to use religion as an motive to block websites may very well be just another avenue to assert dominance over the Internet.
What is your opinion on this? Does Turkey have a right to censor its media? Is it a religious or political maneuver? Or both? Sound off below in the comments.