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5 Things You Should Know About Turkey’s President Erdogan

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If widespread media reports are to believed, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu just told his boss, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan he plans on stepping down at the end of May.

Reporters suggested the reason for Davuto?lu’s decision is his dissatisfaction with Erdogan’s desire to increase his own powers, making him almost irremovable from office.

But this is not the first time Erdogan has done something that is unbecoming of the leader of an alleged democracy.

Here are just five:

 

He drew criticism after comparing his desired presidential system for Turkey with that of Adolf Hitler’s Germany.

He was asked by a reporter on December 31, 2015 if it was possible to have an executive presidential system in Turkey.

“There are already examples in the world. You can see it when you look at Hitler's Germany” Erdogan replied. "There are later examples in various other countries.”

 

He said “Our religion [Islam] has defined a position for women [in society]: Motherhood.” He added that, “You cannot explain this to feminists because they don’t accept the concept of motherhood.”

Erdogan went on to say, “Sometimes, here they say ‘men and women equality.’ But ‘equality among women’ and ‘equality among men’ is more correct. 

Violence against women has skyrocketed since Erdogan’s Islamist AKP party began ruling. According to the Turkish Ministry of Justice, from 2003, when the AKP party took power, until 2010, there was a 1,400 percent increase in the number of murders of women.

 

His government blocked Twitter in March 2016. The move came after Erdogan vowed to “wipe out” the social media network that is used by 10 million Turks.

The restriction on free speech and flow of information fulfilled a pledge Erdogan made a day earlier. Twitter refused Erdogan’s demands to censor certain links, so the Turkish government got permission from a court to stop the population from using the website.

“We now have a court order. We’ll eradicate Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic,” he declared.

He also recently threatened to ban Facebook and YouTube.

 

A prominent Turkish-Dutch journalist was detained for tweets alleged to be insulting to Erdogan.

Ebru Umar was arrested on April 23, 2016 in her home in the coastal town of Kusadasi. “Police at the door. No joke,” she tweeted during the incident.

The arrest follows an email that was sent out by the Turkish consulate in the Netherlands asking people to forward to them any social media posts which insult Erdogan or Turkey.

Turkish authorities have filed close to 2,000 lawsuits against people accused of insulting President Erdogan since 2014. A German comedian will also be prosecuted in Germany for a poem he wroteinsulting Erdogan. The poem focused on hypothetical indecent acts with a goat that the president might enjoy.

 

Two days after his AK Islamist party won the 2015 election, Erdogan began rounding up political enemies in a sweep of arrests.

Journalists, police officers, state governors and many other officials connected to Erdogan’s rival and enemy Fethullah Gulen were arrested at dawn in an operation that covered 18 provinces across the country.  

In sum, 44 people were arrested with warrants issued for another 13. Gulen, a Muslim cleric who has lived in exile in the United States since 1999, is a former ally of Erdogan. In 2013, a serious investigation into corruption by Erdogan’s inner circle was opened. Erdogan accused the prosecutors and police involved in the investigation of being followers of Gulen and has launched numerous purges and arrests of Gulen supporters since that time.

 

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org