Police raided the offices of Cumhuriyet, a Turkish daily newspaper, on January 14 in an attempt to prevent the paper from publishing a special Turkish edition of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, intended as an attack on the government’s increasingly Islamist rule over the NATO country.
France24 reports that police arrived on the premises just as the four-page special edition of the magazine, designed as an insert for the larger Cumhuriyet newspaper, was about to be released. Trucks full of copies of the papers were halted until authorities were convinced that the edition being published in Turkey did not depict images of Muhammad on its cover, even though Cumhuriyet’s editor-in-chief, Utku Çakırözer, had already stated that, out of respect for “religious sensitivities,” the Turkish edition of Charlie Hebdo would not run any cartoons featuring Muhammad on the cover. “We didn’t include the cover of the magazine after a long deliberation,” he said.
The raid on Cumhuriyet is now the top story at the newspaper’s website. The article explains that Cumhuriyet chose to publish a Turkish edition of the newspaper “out of solidarity” and prints a new statement from Çakırözer: “This attack on the freedom of expression, we condemn in the strongest possible terms. We show our solidarity with our news and commentary.”
The government of Turkey had already attacked Cumhuriyet indirectly for its decision to show solidarity with Charlie Hebdo before the raid. Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan stated in a Twitter post, referring to Charlie Hebdo and its allies: “We curse attacks, affronts and provocations against Muslims and Islamic symbols in the same way we have condemned Paris’ attacks.” While Cumhuriyet did not print the cover of this week’s Charlie Hebdo, its opinion pages did print Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Muhammad.
In addition to raiding the Cumhuriyet offices, the Turkish government has moved to ban the “All is Forgiven” Charlie Hebdo cover from any Turkish internet properties. The Wall Street Journal notes that Turkish courts are working to expand the ban to any covers they deem blasphemous on Turkish websites.
The Turkish edition of Charlie Hebdo is only four pages and slightly different from the original edition, published today. According to the Agence France-Presse, Charlie Hebdo editor-in-chief Gérard Biard described the Turkish edition of this issue as “the most important” because of increasingly Islamist policies being favored under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “Turkey is in a difficult period and secularism there is under attack,” he stated.