Turkey’s Erdoğan targets journalists by labeling them as ‘provocateurs’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has once again targeted journalists by labeling them as “provocateurs disguised as journalists.”

Erdoğan also slammed the judiciary, labeling judges “so-called jurists” while condemning a Council of State ruling on Turkey’s controversial “Student Oath.”

“I don’t think the Council of State ruling on the Student Oath was well-intentioned. Our only oath is our national anthem,” Erdoğan said at the Turkish Youth Summit in Istanbul on Nov. 3.

The top administrative court ruled last month to bring back the national oath as mandatory for students to recite in school years after it was revoked by Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

The oath was adopted in the 1930s by Republican People’s Party (CHP) governments, which Erdoğan linked to an initiative in the same period of switching the Arabic-language call to prayer into Turkish in accordance with the nationalist-secularist policies of the time.

“Provocateurs disguised as journalists have started to display their years-long animosity and hatred on television since the ruling. I even saw so-called jurists, who rent their black robes, repeating the oppression of reciting the Islamic call to prayer in Turkish,” Erdoğan said on Thursday.

Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 239 journalists and media workers were in jail as of October 31, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 170 were under arrest pending trial while only 69 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 148 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

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