13 April 2009, Monday, TODAY’S ZAMAN WITH WIRES, İSTANBUL
The Atatürkist Thought Association (ADD) has moved to block access to Google Sites due to content it deems insulting to Atatürk, the founder of Turkey, and the concept of Turkishness.
The association recently applied to the Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office to ban Google Sites, saying several pages affiliated with the famous search engine insult Atatürk and the concept of Turkishness. It is illegal in Turkey to insult Atatürk, a revered figure whose portrait still hangs in nearly all government offices almost 70 years after his death in 1938.
A petition submitted by the neo-nationalist association to the prosecutor’s office read that the owners or founders of the Web sites in question were not found, adding a notice on the bottom of the sites indicated that they were powered by Google Sites. ‘For this reason, we request that an investigation be launched into the issue and necessary precautions be taken,’ the petition read.
Turkey has become the focus of harsh criticism due to an increasing number of Web sites blocked by the government. Web sites in Turkey are most often banned on the grounds that they insult Atatürk, contain vulgarity, enable gambling or promote suicide.
Many sites have also been banned for crimes covered under the Internet Security Law, but a number of sites are banned for no apparent reason. Among the Web sites frequently banned in the country is the popular video-sharing portal YouTube, which was first banned by a controversial court decision in May 2008 for broadcasting videos deemed insulting to Atatürk and the concept of Turkishness. Though the ban was lifted several times, access to YouTube was blocked over and over again by different Turkish courts for the very same reason.
In the meantime, Berivan Zeren — a female teacher at İstanbul’s Kadriye Moroğlu High School — was fired by the superintendent of the school due to ‘her hostile acts against the memory of Atatürk.’
According to a report published by the Taraf daily yesterday, Zeren distributed course-related documents to her students on democracy and human rights. A section of the documents was set aside for Atatürk and said all acts in the school needn’t be supported by a saying of Atatürk. A group of Zeren’s colleagues took the documents to the superintendent and complained that she was engaging in anti-Atatürk acts.
Zeren was fired by the superintendent, Abdülselam Demir, on March 13.