On January 1st, the Washington Post to invited Ekrem Dumanli, editor-in-chief of the daily Zaman newspaper, to write an op-ed related to his own arrest, as well as that of an executive at Samanyolu television network. Both Zaman and Samanyolu are part of the media affiliated with the Gülen movement in Turkey.
The op-ed itself include a number of important sentences on Dumanli and Zaman’s strong defense of free speech in Turkey. For example:
The two critical turning points came in 2013: [Erdoğan’s] government’s harsh treatment of protesters in Gezi Park and the systematic obstruction of justice after a major corruption scandal. Since then, Erdogan has branded dissenters and critics as traitors who are part of a vast international conspiracy to topple him.…In the eyes of the regime, the journalists, TV producers and screenwriters detained by the police on Dec. 14 are members of an “armed terrorist organization” threatening the sovereignty of the state. Don’t look for confiscated arms, attack plans or suicide bombers disguised as journalists. Our fault was to report on government actions that are undermining the foundations of a democratic Turkey.…Anyone who strays is harassed or fired. But as members of the free press, or whatever is left of it in Turkey, we are simply doing our jobs. All it takes to be called a terrorist under Erdogan’s regime is speaking out against government corruption and abuses of power. Verbal attacks, smear campaigns by pro-government media and legal harassment soon follow.
In other words, Dumanli and his Zaman (and its English-language version, Today’s Zaman) were only doing their job speaking truth to power and taking a stance for free speech. The schism with Erdogan is about his reactions to the Gezi protests in 2013 and his government’s rampant corruption.
This is funny. And i don’t mean that Erdogan’s increasing authoritarianism is funny, nor the state of free speech in Turkey. No, I think it’s funny to hear Dumanli – of all people – write this. Because, if you’d actually been reading his articles of the last couple of years, you’d have thought that the Dumanli writing in the Washington Post and the Dumanli writing for the Gülenist press all these years are not necessarily the same person. If you’d been reading the articles of Today’s Zaman as much as I’ve done during this period, you’d be excused for thinking that the Washington Post editors were in need of a doctor.