May 17, 2017

Turkish magazine shuttered over photo of anti-Erdoğan grafitti


Even the mildest story about cats won’t escape the censors in Turkey right now.

For months, we’ve been covering President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ever-expanding crackdown on Turkish journalists and publishers, instigated in response to the attempted coup last summer. The situation is so dire that the Committee to Protect Journalists has resorted to publishing weekly updates on the latest journalists and editors arrested, detained, or jailed by authorities.

The shutdown of Istanbul’s city-owned 1453 Culture and Art magazine this week is a particularly unsettling example of how even the smallest act of resistance will provoke a full-scale response by Turkish authorities. As the journalist-run website TurkeyPurge reported, officials have promptly discontinued the magazine after it published a photograph of anti-Erdoğan graffiti in a review of a documentary about cats who inhabit Istanbul’s streets. The offending graffiti, reading “Erdo-gone! Inshallah mashallah,” appeared on a wall behind an attractive, yawning feline.

From the report:

According to a statement on Tuesday by Kultur Inc, the municipality-owned enterprise that publishes the magazine, the publication was closed down for “bounderish, disrespectful and provocative content.”

The statement also said the municipality will file legal complaint for the magazine’s editorial coordinator, managing editor and the editor[-in-chief] who were already dismissed from their posts.

The website Turkish Minute corroborated the report, reporting that the shutdown was also announced by Istanbul’s Mayor Kadir Topbaş, who’s quoted saying, “What has been done in the magazine is an act of cheapness and immorality.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times’ Patrick Kingley has an unsettling report on the toll the crackdown in taking on some Turkish citizens. In one interview, the wife of an imprisoned journalist described going to visit her husband — one of at least 120 jailed journalists — as “entering the belly of the beast.”



Kait Howard was a publicist at Melville House.