Turkish woman detained for insulting Erdoğan in overheard conversation on bus

An Ankara woman identified only as M.A. was detained after being reported to police for allegedly insulting Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a conversation with a friend on the bus.

The Cumhuriyet daily reported on Friday that M.A. was reported to police by another passenger who had overheard M.A.’s conversation in which she was discussing the 2013 Gezi Park protests and the 2016 failed coup with her friend.

The informant followed M.A. off the bus and had her detained by police at a store in Ankara’s Kızılay district, according to Cumhuriyet.

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Murat Emir said M.A. is a CHP member and added, “[the government] has managed to turn people into informers.”

Meanwhile, 4 people were detained after they stood out against a government-employed, local imam who had asked worshippers to pray for Turkey’s offensive in the Syrian city of Afrin during a Friday sermon.

Germany-based online news outlet Artı Greek has reported that a group of worshippers left the Friday prayer at Feqıyê Teyran mosque in Diyarbakır’s Kayapınar district when the imam praised the Turkish offensive in Afrin and asked the congregation to pray for Turkey’s troops involved in the operation.

Upon a complaint to the police with regards to the incident, four people were taken into custody, according to media. Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ziya Pir confirmed on Twitter on Friday that hundreds of people left the mosque due to a “political sermon” and that at least four people were detained.

The Turkish government has also requested that Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to remove “damaging, objectionable, untrue and manipulative” content regarding its military operation in Syria. The companies are acting slowly, but responding positively to the government’s requests, an unnamed official told pro-government Habertürk daily.

“If the damaging, objectionable, untrue and manipulative content are not removed immediately, it can be too late to stop it spreading to the masses,” the official was quoted as saying. “Therefore, we act quickly and proactively.”

Turkey’s internet authority monitors users who share content that may “demoralise the Turkish troops in the front or can influence the domestic public,” the report said. The Prime Minister’s Office directly issues access bans on such content, and users who share such posts are investigated, Habertürk said. Courts affirm these bans within 24 hours, it said.

According to Turkey’s Internet Law, the government can issue bans on any online content on national security or public safety grounds. Dozens of Turkish social media users, including journalists, have been detained for criticising Turkey’s offensive against Syrian Kurdish militia that Ankara says threatens its border security.

Last week, Turkish troops entered Afrin area, which is controlled by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) extension PYD.

As of the end of 2016, at least 10,000 people were under investigation on suspicion of terrorist propaganda and insulting senior state officials on social media. A total of 1,080 people were convicted of insulting Erdoğan in 2016, according to data from Turkey’s Justice Ministry. Data also showed that 4,936 cases were launched against people on charges of insult in 2016. (SCF with turkeypurge.com)

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