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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776
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Increasingly Autocratic Turkish PM Bans Twitter

Embattled Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pulled the plug on Twitter at midnight, March 20, 2014.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Photo Credit: Flash 90

Within hours after making the threat, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan closed the curtain on Turkish residents’ ability to engage in the social media known as Twitter.

It happened by midnight (6:00 p.m. ET) on Thursday, March 20.

A 26-year old woman in Istanbul for whom anonymity was requested relayed to The Jewish Press that when she attempted to use her twitter account tonight, this message popped up: “FORBIDDEN.”

The justification given by Erdoğan for taking the extreme step was that Twitter officials refused to follow orders from Turkish courts to “remove some links” as requested by certain Turkish citizens, Turkey’s Hurriyet reported.

The Turkish agency responsible for communications, the Communications Technologies Institution (BTK) was invested with enormous powers under the recently passed Internet law. It listed the three court rulings and a prosecutor’s decision on its website as the reason for the shutdown.

Matters within the formerly prosperous and increasingly modernized country began taking a dramatic turn for the worse over the past few years. Vigorous distrust of the government began to be publicly expressed, such as during the Gezi Park protests in the spring of 2013, and later in the wake of the government corruption probes that are still continuing. These ongoing distractions have dragged the current administration into a vortex of endless internal criticism, economic instability and external contempt. Erdoğan responded to the unrest by blaming Twitter as the source of his problems.

YouTube has been banned repeatedly by Turkey over the last number of years.

Earlier this month the Turkish prime minister threatened to shut down Facebook and YouTube.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the U.S. correspondent for The Jewish Press. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com


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