“We will not leave this nation at the mercy of YouTube and Facebook!” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan thundered in the spring of 2014. “We will take the necessary steps in the strongest way.” Now, he has come out in praise of Facebook.
Erdogan has not really mellowed about free speech since then; if anything, the crackdown on dissent has intensified, with Turkey a world leader in censorship demands on social media companies–but Erdogan is extremely pleased with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg because the latter wrote a Facebook post “in support of Muslims in our community and around the world.”
This, of course, resulted in countless headlines filled with puns about Erdogan “liking” or “friending” Zuckerberg.
In one such report from AFP, “Erdogan Friends Zuckerberg over Pro-Muslim Message,” Erdogan is quoted from his own official web page:
I highly value Mark Zuckerberg’s message for pointing out the profound difference between Islam and terrorism since these two concepts are often mentioned in the same breath these days
As I always express on different platforms, Islam is a religion of peace. Murderous networks that abuse Islam for their self-serving goals are massacring innocent people every day, particularly Muslims.
Zuckerberg’s Facebook post reads in full:
I want to add my voice in support of Muslims in our community and around the world.
After the Paris attacks and hate this week, I can only imagine the fear Muslims feel that they will be persecuted for the actions of others.
As a Jew, my parents taught me that we must stand up against attacks on all communities. Even if an attack isn’t against you today, in time attacks on freedom for anyone will hurt everyone.
If you’re a Muslim in this community, as the leader of Facebook I want you to know that you are always welcome here and that we will fight to protect your rights and create a peaceful and safe environment for you.
Having a child has given us so much hope, but the hate of some can make it easy to succumb to cynicism. We must not lose hope. As long as we stand together and see the good in each other, we can build a better world for all people.
AFP bizarrely suggests the “Turkish strongman” Erdogan “appears to have softened his stance in recent times” because he uses his own Facebook page to publish statements, and he has his own Twitter account now, @RT_Erdogan.
The problem was never Erdogan’s reluctance to put his own speech on social media, but rather his determination to keep his critics from using it, and his stance on that has not “softened” at all. Just ask the medical doctor looking at two years of jail time for daring to observe that Erdogan looks like Gollum from the Lord of the Rings movies.