Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Frustration with following the Turkish news media. #direngezi #direnankara

Last weekend was a long one in Turkey. Gezi Park was cleared, protestors protested. The AK Party held their rally in Istanbul and hundreds of thousands showed up in solidarity with the Prime Minister. Protestors protested. A funeral procession for one of the protestors in Ankara was met with teargas.

The battle has been raged as much on Twitter as on the street; AK Party supporters quick to point out which pictures and statements that pro-Gezi supporters were making were false. Protestors, meanwhile, defended themselves from false attacks from government officials and their supporters.

It's hard to tell who is making false statements (and whether they know it... if so, what are their motives?) The Western media isn't helping at all-- there is no mention of false claims being made by the government or protestors, nor attempts to debunk them. The Turkish media has chosen to heavily censor itself in order to not be fined, or worse. This creates an enormous frustration for me. 

For example, take this claim from a speech by the Prime Minister last Saturday that protestors in Gezi Park burned Turkish flags and also wore shoes and drank alcohol inside a mosque--something that should rightly offend Muslims:
Captured on Hurriyet's app for iPad

I asked a few Western journalists in Istanbul if there was any truth to this, got no response. I asked a friend who is protesting, he told me the muezzin at the mosque already denied the claim, and that pictures of flags burning were shown to be taken from PKK rallies years ago. But a claim like this from the PM, believed by his supporters, definitely paints the protestors as un-Turkish and un-Muslim (and therefore any Western media holding them up as peaceful citizens is an ignorant falsehood).

The truth is out there, but very hard to find. So, protestors hope that you will make judgments based on only what you see: namely police wantonly firing tear gas into densely populated areas.

No comments: