Young man faces trial for insulting Turkish state on social media

A young man, identified only by the initials S.K., will face trial for allegedly insulting and disregarding the symbols of the state’s sovereignty in a social media post, the Bold Medya news website reported.

The indictment drafted against S.K. concerns a photo he posted on social media that included images of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the republic, the Turkish flag and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with victory sign emojis superimposed on them, completely covering their faces.

S.K took the photo at a municipal building in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa following the March 31 local elections. He shared the image on his social media account on April 22.

Two days later, S.K. was detained as part of an investigation initiated by local prosecutors. He was released the same day after giving a statement to the police.

The one-page indictment prepared by the prosecutor was accepted by a local court.  The indictment noted that the victory sign emojis “have gained a political significance and are recognized as such across the country.”

The victory hand emoji is believed to be used by people sympathetic to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey and its Western allies.

The first hearing of the case is scheduled for September 17 at the Ceylanpınar Criminal Court of First Instance.

Human rights organizations have frequently criticized the Turkish government for stifling freedom of expression and suppressing dissent.

Charges of insulting the president, high-ranking government officials and state institutions or denigrating national values are often leveled against ordinary citizens expressing criticism and journalists covering news.

Critics argue that such measures are part of a broader strategy to silence opposition and maintain tight control over public discourse.

Since Erdoğan was first elected president in 2014, more than 160,000 people have been investigated on allegations of insulting the president; criminal charges have been filed against 45,000 of them; and 13,000 people have been convicted.

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