More attacks on the press in Turkey

Press freedom in Turkey has taken a beating in recent years, driven by efforts to detain and expel journalists with ties to the Kurdish PKK. The journalist Frederike Geerdink was recently expelled from Turkey while covering the PKK. And three reporters associated with VICE News were detained for “supporting terrorism” – that is, interviewing PKK members. The government’s logic here is eerily similar to that of the Egyptian court that passed judgment on Al Jazeera reporters for the “crime” of interviewing members of the Muslim Brotherhood. There are quite a few other “off-limits” topics in Ankara’s eyes today. After the Kurdish Question, the most taboo one is government corruption, whether it is in the form of sweet deals for friends and family of the president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, or the diversion of war matériel into Syria.

The most recent episode in this drama was a police raid on the offices of the Kopa Ipek conglomerate. The raid followed a report in the Koza Ipek-owned Bugün newspaper on the transfer of weaponry and construction material into Syria from a Turkish border post. Warrants have since been issued for the firm’s executives on the grounds that Kopa Ipek is allegedly providing material support to Syrian terrorists. 

Examining the record of arms transfers into Syria – ostensibly to fight against Assad and build influence among the rebel forces – is a particular sore spot these days, with the government going so far as to arrest the forensics experts and prosecutors who were originally tasked with investigating arms transfers … until their higher-ups decided to kill the probe and punish those whose routine police work exposed a major clandestine operation. Erdogan himself has even demanded that reporters from Cumhuriyet face maximum jail time on the grounds that their reporting is part of a conspiracy by his former Islamist allies, the Gulenists

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Letter from jailed AJE journalist

Baher Mohammed, Al Jazeera English producer who has know been in detention for four months now: "I want to bow before all those who are fighting for freedom of expression, a free press, and an end to our detention." 

Ursula Lindsey

Ursula Lindsey is the managing editor of the Arabist blog. She writes about culture, education and politics in the Arab world. She lived in Cairo from 2002 to 2013 and got her start at the ground-breaking independent magazine Cairo Times. She was the culture editor of Cairo magazine in 2005-2006 and served as special projects editor at the independent news site Mada Masr in 2013-2014. She is the Chronicle of Higher Education's Middle East correspondent. She contributes to the BBC-PRI radio program The World, and has written for Newsweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker online, Bookforum and the blog of the London Review of Books.

Today's headlines in Egypt

On 27 January — compare to yesterday's. The policy for the state press has changed from ignoring the situation to scaremongering about chaos.

The state press

Al Ahram: "Four dead and 118 wounded among the protestors; 162 policemen wounded and 100 arrests in Cairo and the governorates"

Al Akhbar: "Protests in Cairo and Suez; Minister of Interior has banned protests"

Al Gomhouriya: "Security forces will firmly face any attempt to break the law and spread unrest"

Rose al-Youssef: "In an exclusive interview, the Minister of Interior affirms that the Egyptian state is not fragile. This regime is supported by millions of Egyptians and a few thousand protestors will not destabilize it."

The private press

Al Masri Al Youm: "Protestors and police hold to their positions for the second day of protests"

Al Shorouk: "Gratuitous violence and excessive police brutality"

Al Wafd: "Change is the solution"

Nahdet Misr: "The protestors are right to be angry"

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region,

Links for 5-6 December

Automatically posted links for December 5th through December 6th:
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