Turkey cracks down on insults to President Erdogan

The New York Times reports: Since August 2014, 1,845 criminal cases have been opened against Turks for insulting their president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a crime that carries a penalty of up to four years in prison. Among the offenders are journalists, authors, politicians, a famous soccer star, even schoolchildren.

That number quantified a growing trend of cracking down on dissent, and was revealed this week by the country’s justice minister, Bekir Bozdag, in response to a question in Parliament.

“I don’t think you could read this without blushing,” Mr. Bozdag said late Tuesday, defending the myriad alleged insults subject to judicial scrutiny. “It is not an expression of opinion, it is all swears and insults.”

“Nobody should have the freedom to swear,” he added.

The crush of insult crimes that have inundated Turkey’s justice system reflect the president’s authoritarian leadership style, critics say, and his determination to not let any insult, perceived or otherwise, go unanswered. [Continue reading…]

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