Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has chosen to drop the charges against thousands of people indicted for the crime of insulting him.
Over ten such individuals have been jailed for the offense, according to what Erdogan’s lawyer told Hurriyet Daily News. Some of the others were politicians and journalists who would have been forced to pay Erdogan compensation for their mockery.
“For us, the milestone is July 29. We have taken action for the cases that took place before July 29. So to my knowledge there is no one left in prison for insulting the president,” said Erdogan lawyer Huseyin Aydin.
He said petitions would be withdrawn in a staggering four thousand “insult cases,” but that still might not be enough to get all of the accused off the hook because “public cases are not automatically dropped, even if the injured party withdraws the complaint.”
Hurriyet notes that Erodgan previously “decided to withdraw all court cases he previously opened against the chairs of opposition parties, with the exception of the Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP), as a sign of solidarity after the July 15 coup attempt.”
Nothing like a good coup attempt to give an authoritarian ruler a fresh new perspective on minor insults! Before the coup, Erdogan was so prickly that his government was encouraging Turks living abroad to rat out anyone they overheard making derogatory comments about him — for example, reading a satirical poem on television.
But now, the Great Man has been “inspired by the feelings of unity in the wake of the recent failed coup,” as the BBC puts it, and has developed a vestigial sense of humor — although he hastened to add his withdrawal of charges was a “one-off gesture of goodwill.”
Having delivered that gesture, Erdogan returned to making an entirely different sort of gesture at NATO allies who dare to question his wide-ranging post-coup crackdown.
For example, he accused U.S. General Joseph Votel, head of Central Command, of “taking the side of coup plotters instead of thanking this state for defeating the coup attempt,” advising Votel to “know your place.”
Since Votel cannot file charges against Erdogan for insulting him, he settled for calling Erdogan’s allegations “unfortunate and completely inaccurate,” stressing that he was merely worried about how Erdogan’s purge of the Turkish military would affect its relationships with American and European commands.