Apr 28 2018

The four articles that led to Turkey’s Wikipedia ban - analysis

Despite Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s claim that Wikipedia was banned in Turkey due to ‘national security’ concerns, the ban of the popular online encylopedia occured due to multiple reasons such as the country’s role in Syria; the reputation of Erdoğan family members; and even Turkish national history, Israeli Haaretz daily asserted.

Turkey blocked access to Wikipedia exactly a year ago under a highly-debated ‘internet law’ legislated by the President due to what was labelled as a “coordinated smear campaign” against Turkey, with Turkish officials alleging that “articles and comments showing Turkey aligned with various terrorist groups,” Omer Benjakob explains in his article for Haartez daily.

‘’Officials in Ankara reached out to Wikimedia (the nonprofit that oversees Wikipedia) to request that content be changed on at least four different articles before the ban, on at least three different occasions,’’ Benjakob says.

The Haartez article lists  the articles that got Wikipedia banned in Turkey as follows:

The first instance involved ISIS and Turkey’s ‘righteous’ war. Two specific Wikipedia articles: “State-sponsored terrorism” and “Foreign involvement in the Syrian Civil War.” led to Ankara warning to remove the offending content but the nonprofit encyclopedia refused,” the Haaretz article states.

Both articles contained claims that Turkey has supported ISIS, and it was these articles were the ones invoked to justify the ban, according to Benjakob.

The second instance involved emails belonging to Berat Albayrak, Erdogan’s son-in-law, the article states.

A group who call themselves RedHack published over 57,000 emails belonging to Albayrak.  ‘’They detailed what Foreign Policy described as everything “from indirect involvement with ISIS’ oil trade to free press crackdowns,’’ Benjakob explains.

‘’The third incident where Turkey requested content be changed has less to do with Erdoğan and more with a perceived slight to Turkish national pride. The article was the Turkish Wikipedia entry on “Benevolent dictator,’’ the Haaretz article explains.

Listed under this article are Napoleon Bonaparte, Fidel Castro, Ho Chi Minh – and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Turkey’s founding father.

Wikimedia received an email from the Information and Communication Technologies Authority of the Turkish government, claiming that the Turkish Wikipedia article on Musfik diktatorluk (benevolent dictatorship) violated Turkish law.

Meanwhile, the Wikimedia Foundation is calling on the government to restore full access to Wikipedia for Turkish people and says the following:

‘’We continue to explore other opportunities to lift the block of Wikipedia in Turkey and remain committed to restoring access to Wikipedia in full. While we are open to conversations with Turkish authorities, we would never stray from our values, opposition to censorship, and our goal of restoring access to Wikipedia in its entirety.

Wikipedia, started a new campaign in March to reach out to one of the few country's in the world in which it has been blocked, changing its Facebook profile picture with a "We Miss Turkey" banner.