The shrinking media freedom in Turkey is in danger of becoming gender-specific. Female journalists critical of government policies who appear on TV seem to be specifically at risk of retaliation. Ceyda Karan of the daily Cumhuriyet is the latest target of a smear campaign after her appearance Aug. 20 on a CNN Turk news talk show. Although she did not say that those supporting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan are stupid, Cetiner Cetin, a male co-panelist who writes for the pro-Justice and Development Party (AKP) Islamic daily Yeni Safak, twisted her expressions to make it sound that way.
“The moderator was asking about the possibilities of early elections. Kadri Gursel, a fellow columnist at Al-Monitor and the daily Milliyet, said they could even occur as early as November. I agreed on that being a possibility and that it all depends on developments,” Karan told Al-Monitor. “I, however, stressed that it is misleading to discuss these issues as if all is normal in this country. With the outcome of the presidential elections, we talked about how the country will be transformed into a presidential system moving away from a parliamentary system. But we didn’t discuss whether we need a presidential system, and whether it is good for the country. In the 2007 referendum [when most secular voters objected to the presidential candidacy of Abdullah Gul, who is about to leave office], the government asked people whether they should directly elect the president the next time around, and managed to amend the constitution accordingly. All of this was done without a real debate, however. In the absence of a true debate discussing the pros and cons of such a regime change, they [Erdoganists] distributed a memorandum to their constituency and made them support the AKP’s will. People don’t have to know everything, but they are being misled.”