Turkish President Tweets a Tut-Tut at the Nation’s Internet Restrictions

by Anisa Benmoktar on July 3, 2010

While my friends in Pakistan have been keeping me up to date on the country’s Facebook ban and associated saga – I was intrigued to learn of another virtual controversy… this time in Turkey.

Thanks to my dear Turkish friend Lamia, who returned from Istanbul yesterday and tipped me off, I found an article in Today’s Zamman about the country’s ban on YouTube and some Google listings. Both the ban and the response to it are food for thought.

Banned Out of Respect

The Turkish courts have blocked access to YouTube since 2008. The measure was implemented after Greek users posted videos alleging that Mustafa Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic and its first President was homosexual.

Last week Turkey extended the ban to some Google pages that use the same Internet protocol addresses as YouTube.

Twy Saying “Tweet Tweet” in Turkish

Turkish president Abdullah Gul has voiced his opposition to the ban in a rather unique way: through his Twitter account!

Turkish President Abdullah Gul uses Twitter to voice his opinion.

In separate tweets, said he did not approve of the bans and had instructed officials to examine legal ways of reopening access.

This bid to bring back virtual freedom in Turkey isn’t Mr Gul’s first bold stand as President. The leader attracted his fair share of friends and enemies as he broke the mold by becoming the first former-Islamist President in the modern history of Turkey.

If It’s Good Enough for The President…

At the turn of this year, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe pressed Turkey to abolish or reform a law allowing it to block around 3,700 Internet sites.

By law websites can be blocked under article 5651 of the Turkish penal code for a range of offences including insulting Ataturk, child pornography and encouraging suicide.

Do any of you Turkish readers out there have anything to add to this? We’d love to hear from you!

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