Now Tweet this: Turkey’s Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan tried to prevent his country’s access to Twitter, disabling all Twitter account holders from accessing the popular social medium because of an item tweeted on the network accused him of corruption.
Imagine the United States, or a Western European country that would attempt to do the same every time President Barak Obama, French President Francois Hollande, or British Prime Minister David Cameron were criticized. There would not be a single media source in either print or Internet media left. But perhaps at times much as they may want to silence a media source that may become too embarrassing for their political pleasures, they simple do not revert to such tactics because it is not the manner in which a democracy functions.
Members of the Turkish Youth Union hold cartoons depicting Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a protest against a ban on Twitter, in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, March 21, 2014. Turkey's attempt to block access to Twitter appeared to backfire on Friday with many tech-savvy users circumventing the ban and suspicions growing that the prime minister was using court orders to suppress corruption allegations against him and his government. Cartoon second right reads: Erdogan, left, to his Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek " we will rip out the roots of Twitter." Gokcek: "don't say it."(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
In the words of Evelyn Beatrice Hall writing under the pseudonym of Stephen G. Tallentyre, and wrongly attributed to Voltaire, “I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it," is the basic tenet of any democracy.
Mr. Erdogan pontificates that his party, an Islamist leaning organization that changed its name to the Justice and Development Party in order to appear more approachable to the middle of the road electorate, is for democracy and claims that Turkey, under his administration is ready to join the European Union. Mr. Erdogan has repeatedly stated that Turkey has met all the required criteria to become a full-fledged member of the Brussels group.
Well, this latest incident demonstrates quite clearly that his Turkey is obviously not yet where it should be.
In fact, Mr. Erdogan is so out of sync with political reality that even his close political ally and staunch supporter, Turkey's President Abdullah Gul, came out with a statement criticizing the prime minister’s actions. And adding insult to injury, President Gul sent his remarks via Twitter, saying, “I hope this implementation won’t last long.”
People walk in front of a poster displaying Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul on March 21, 2014. Turkey's combative prime minister warned March 21, 2014 that he would eradicate Twitter in the wake of damaging allegations of corruption in his inner circle that have spread across social networks in recent weeks. 'We will wipe out Twitter. I don't care what the international community says,' premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at an election rally in the western province of Bursa. AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE
Many users, though not all, who tried to access the network early Friday instead saw a notice from Turkey’s telecommunications authority, citing four court orders.
Mr. Erdogan’s attempt at imposing censorship not only failed but has backfired. After the ban on Twitter was announced, the hashtag #TwitterisblockedinTurkey took Twitter to new heights, as the Washington Post called it, “Going super nova."
This may be yet one more badly made decision by the Turkish prime minister that will come back to bite him in the lower rear side of his anatomy.
Indeed, Turkey’s attempt to ban Twitter has only reinforced the Internet communication system, and yes, Twitter is still very active in Turkey and remains accessible via the sites’ SMS service.
This Twitter saga comes on the heels of a number of major problems that have befallen the Turkish prime minister in recent months and that have plagued his tenure as prime minster and head of the Turkish Justice and Development party.
Some analysts say that Mr. Erdogan’s clash with Twitter was predictable and was inevitable.
Tens of thousand of Tweets from around the world were posted on the Internet decrying the ban on Twitter and voicing discontent with the prime ministers’ running of the country. Many accuse Mr. Erdogan of veering away from the secular policies established by Mustapha Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, claiming Mr. Erdogan is trying to take Turkey on a path towards Islamization.
In this Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, file photo, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends a news briefing in a ceremony for signing agreements between Iranian and Turkish officials in Tehran, Iran. Turkey restricted access to Twitter on Friday, March 21, 2014, hours after Erdogan threatened to “root out” the social media network where wiretapped recordings have been leaked, damaging the government’s reputation ahead key local elections this month. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)
Recent riots in Istanbul, the nation’s major business center, and in the capital Ankara, as well as in a number of other cities across the country broke out over the government’s plan to develop a major commercial center in Istanbul’s Gezi Park last year. However, the root of disenchantment goes much further than the question of tearing down a park. This had far more to do with the general dissatisfaction of the people in Turkey.
Mr. Erdogan needs to realize that democracy for Turkey is not an á la carte menu - he cannot pick and choose what he likes, what he dislikes to fit his needs and still call it democracy. Democracy comes in a package and some things may not be always pleasing. To quote Winston Churchill, “democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried.”
Claude Salhani is senior editor at Trend Agency in Baku and a political analyst specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and terrorism. You can follow him on Twitter @claudesalhani.
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