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Erdogan vows to punish thought crimes

By introducing the concept of "unarmed terrorists," Turkey’s president is resurrecting the old concept of "thought crime" that he used to oppose.

The latest suicide bombing in downtown Ankara that killed 37 civilians naturally shook Turkey and heightened the nation’s worries about terrorism. It also supported, especially for foreign observers, Turkey’s concern over the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) — and by extension, PKK-affiliated Kurdish forces in Syria, even if they are effective against the Islamic State.

However, the way President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded to this terrorist attack was disturbing. The powerful president is using Turkey's troubles to take his increasingly authoritarian rule to new heights. His objective was evident in the speech Erdogan gave in Ankara on March 14, just a day after the deadly terror attack. He not only condemned the terrorists who use bombs and weapons to kill people, but also what he called “unarmed terrorists” who supposedly help them with their ideas. He said, “There is no difference between a terrorist with a gun and bomb in his hand and those who use their work and pen to support terror. The fact that an individual could be a deputy, an academic, an author, a journalist or the director of an NGO [nongovernmental organization] does not change the fact that that person is a terrorist.”

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