"But 18 months ago, the rules of the game looked set to change. The European Union had at last set a date for talks on Turkish accession. The long conflict with Kurdish separatists was apparently over, and the Kurds had been accorded limited cultural rights. Encouraged by the prospect of entry into the European Union, other previously silent Muslim and non-Muslim minorities were beginning to make themselves heard.
In so doing, they seemed to be reflecting the mood of the country as a whole. An overwhelming majority wanted to join the European Union. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the pro-market, pro-Europe Islamist prime minister, had committed himself to a new penal code that promised to bring Turkey into line with European norms. The hope was that the European Union process would force the ossified machinery of state to modernize.
What few people predicted was that the new penal code would become the vehicle for backlash by expanding curbs on freedom of expression. Article 301 recommends sentences of up to three years for those convicted of “denigrating Turkishness” or insulting the judiciary or other state organs, while other articles make it an offense to insult the memory of Ataturk or “seek to alienate people from military service.” A recently revised antiterror law is so broadly written that it will, human rights groups claim, make it a crime to espouse any view that is shared by an outlawed group or even to publish a statement by an illegal organization.
So far, no one has been sent to prison.... But to assume that writers have nothing to fear is to underestimate the forces behind these prosecutions.
It is still not clear how Article 301 found its way into the new penal code, but the Unity of Jurists, an ultranationalist lawyers group, is behind most of the high-profile prosecutions. Its main spokesman is a lawyer named Kemal Kerincsiz. His rabidly xenophobic sound bites have turned him into a national celebrity, and his words are echoed by the thugs who have taunted, assaulted and insulted defendants and observers in the corridors of the courthouses, denouncing them as traitors and “missionary children” (a reference to the foreign schools many of the defendants attended) and spouting racist slogans that call to mind Berlin in 1935, while the riot police look on.
In certain corners of the state apparatus there must be others who believe, like Kerincsiz, that “the European Union means slavery and a prisoner’s chains for Turkey.” They must be rejoicing that the trials have seriously damaged the case for Europe inside Turkey, while also giving fodder to anti-Turkish nationalists in Europe. Most of all, they must be pleased that the European Union has now signaled that the 301 trials are serious impediments to accession.
This is not a tug of war between East and West as the West likes to understand it: while some of Turkey’s new ultranationalists are Islamists, most are old-guard, die-hard secularists. The battle is about democracy, with supporters of European Union membership hoping for peaceful change and opponents hoping for a return to authoritarian rule. "
"And while the context and degree are vastly different, are there not glimmers of such authoritarian tendencies in some of the lynch mob turn-it-on, turn-it-off threats against the NYT and other media for publishing the NSA domestic surveillance and Swift stories? For daring to write, as the WP's Dana Priest has done about extraordinary renditions? Heard anyone here make an argument about why such stories shouldn't be told, can't be told?"
i wonder what our neocon overlord democracy-givers think of this. perhaps the answer is here.