A France-based Turkish newspaper has closed down its operations after receiving hundreds of death threats due to their criticism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Zaman, which is openly critical of the Erdoğan regime in Turkey, announced its closure on Tuesday saying that the “disturbing trend of events” following the failed coup had created an atmosphere that made it impossible for the journalists or editorial staff to continue their work, reports Kurier.
The French office’s nine employees, along with readers, are said to have been in danger due to what the paper called “security risks”. Editor Emre Demir said that it was Erdoğan’s AKP party who were behind the over 200 death threats they and their readers had received.
The publication also had operations in Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, until being shut down in late July in the immediate aftermath of the failed coup along with over a hundred other media outlets critical of the regime.
This is not the first time the paper has been approached by the Erdoğan regime. In February Zaman in Turkey was co-opted by the Turkish government due to its critical approach of the president. The move led to outrage on behalf of the French government who called the seizure of the paper “unacceptable”.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said: “It’s not acceptable. We can’t want to get closer to European standards and not respect the pluralism of the media. It’s obvious and we’ve said it clearly to the Turks.”
Zaman is just the latest section of the Turkish diaspora in Europe to become a target of the Turkish government and its supporters. In the wake of the failed coup many Turkish Kurds and supporters of Imam Fethullah Gulen have stated that they fear for their safety from pro-Erdoğan groups.
In Germany tens of thousands of Erdoğan supporters took to the streets of Cologne, and on the night of the failed coup Turks rallied in Germany and Austria, including the ultra nationalist Grey Wolves group.
The protests in support of Erdoğan have led to Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz and anti-mass migration Freedom Party (FPÖ) candidate for president Norbert Hofer questioning the loyalty of Austrian Turks.
Earlier this week Mr. Hofer even praised his longtime political rivals in government for their stances on the rallies and on their tougher attitudes toward mass migration.