We are all aware of it and pained by it in different ways. Polarization between different segments of society is becoming more pronounced and intolerance more widespread. The Hrant Dink Foundation has just concluded a study of newspapers over the last four months to draw attention to the discriminatory, racist and intolerant language used in them.
The study, covering September-December 2013, found new targets in addition to the usual, permanent objects of hate. The perceptible increase in hate narratives in the last four months of 2013 should serve as a warning.
For example, hate speech based on religious affiliation is particularly worrisome. In 175 news reports, such language was directed toward eight non-Muslim religious groups. In general, the narrative of hatred and contempt is produced by columnists, and Armenians remain their primary targets.
Who says Turkey is a society of tolerance? Another group targeted just as often as the Armenians is the Jews. It's nothing but anti-Semitism. Next in line are the Christians. Anti-Christian hate speech in the press peaked around the New Year.
These three groups are followed by Kurds, Greeks, non-Muslims and Alevis. Anti-Kurdish hate narratives have increased as the peace process continues. After them come the Western world and Syrian refugees.
Discriminatory language was used also against Buddhists, communists, Masons, Arabs, conscientious objectors and Georgians. A new target group in local and national papers is the Syrian refugees. The hostile language against Gezi Park protesters has eased off a bit, but the provocative tones are still there.
Discrimination against Alevis
Discrimination against Alevis fills another chapter: Turkish dailies Star and Yeni Safak, both affiliated with the government, have been linking popular protests, local anti-government political actions and the protests by the Middle East Technical University together and always portray the police as victims.
News and comments about women and LGBT groups are studied in another category. The record offender here is daily Yeni Akit. Other mainstream newspapers regularly discriminating against LGBT groups include Sok, Star, Takvim and Haberturk.
Of 175 bylines spewing hatred in articles and commentary, only two from the study were female, as men overwhelming dominate the media. But in general, women are less likely to use hate speech and discriminatory language. If this is the performance of the media at the end of 2013, one wonders what its record will look like on the eve of the elections. It's scary.
Media of hatred
The newspapers most resorting to hate speech were identified as Yeni Akit, Milli Gazete, Yeni Safak, Orta Dogu,Takvim, Once Vatan, Yeni Cag, Milat and Anayurt. One wonders what the findings would be if the same study were done on TV stations and Internet sites. The government and its docile media say they use such narratives only to respond to “Islamophobia” and “insulting religion.” But the real targets of their hate speech are the minorities, in a country that brags of having a 99% Muslim population. What irony!