Is Turkey's Erdoğan the world's most easily offended leader?
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is either the world’s most frequently insulted leader, or the most easily offended, exiled Turkish journalist Can Dündar wrote for the German news outlet Die Ziet.
Since he was elected president in 2014, 68,817 people have been investigated for presidential defamation, nearly 13,000 trials have been opened and over 3,000 people convicted, said Dündar.
This is a record achieved by no president in Turkish history before him, said Dündar. The paragraph on presidential injustice has been in criminal law for 25 years, but it was hardly ever tried until Erdoğan became president in 2014.
Yet Erdoğan does not bear the slightest criticism, said Dündar. After some 4,000 lawsuits were filed in 2016 and the courts were unable to comply, Erdoğan had to amnesty all the defendants. But then last year more than 20,000 people were investigated for insulting Erdoğan, and more than 6,000 charged.
An anthology of insults could be compiled to document the spirit of this era. Journalist Hüsnü Mahalli spent a year and eight months in prison after he called Erdoğan a dictator. Although Mahalli said that it was not an insult, but a definition, he did not escape punishment.
Three months ago, a beggar was arrested in Antalya for insulting the president. He was released when he told the guard that his wife's cousin was also called Erdoğan, and that was the person he had insulted, not the president.
Students from Middle East Technical University, one of the best colleges in the country, were charged after they presented a caricature of Erdoğan in the form of various animals at their graduation ceremony. Previously, a libel suit against the draftsman of the cartoon had already gone out with acquittal. But now the students were put behind bars for a month.
The courtrooms are overflowing with so-called offenders. Some Internet portals present a list of offences under the heading "Erdoğan insults today". "The libel lawsuits hang over the society like a sword of Damocles,” said Dündar.
The journalist Onur Erem wrote, if you search Google for "murderer and thief", propose the automatic completion function "Erdoğan" and "AKP". For this he was sentenced to eleven months and twenty days in prison.
It would come as no surprise, Dündar said, if Google were also caught by the epidemic and charged with insulting Turkey’s leader.