With much of Europe focused on a deal with Turkey to stem the flow of Syrian refugees into the European Union, the critical Middle Eastern country took another large step toward illiberalism over the weekend.
Following a court order, riot police on Friday took control of the country’s Zaman newspaper, with by far the highest circulation in Turkey. Police forcibly entered the news offices on Friday, firing its editor, Abdülhamit Bilici, and using tear gas to dispel any lingering protests from reporters and readers who might oppose one of the most shamelessly heavy-handed attacks on press freedom in Turkish history.
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To put this in perspective, Poland’s opposition and much of the European elite rang alarms late last year when the new, conservative Polish government pushed to take aggressive control of the state media.
By contrast, the Turkish government has now taken one of the country’s most important private newspapers. On Monday, the newly government-owned Zaman was already taking a chillingly pro-government line. (Oddly, as of late Monday night, the English-language edition’s website was still up). Continue reading In blow to Turkish media, Erdoğan seizes critical Zaman newspaper