February 11, 2016

Turkey’s Internet watchdog blocks access to website broadcasting Gülen’s speeches

Turkey's government-controlled Internet watchdog, Telecommunications Directorate (TİB), has blocked access to herkul.org, a website which regularly broadcasts speeches by Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

Turkish users could not access the website on Thursday but met with a notification which said TİB imposed a “protection measure” for the website based on a decision taken by the İstanbul 7th Penal Court of Peace on Thursday.

The website’s editor, Osman Şimşek, condemned the ban on Twitter. “Access to our herkul.org website was blocked with a court decision. Now that it will not be able to break bridges among our hearts… God is generous!” he tweeted.

The move comes amid increasing pressure on the Gülen movement inspired by Gülen.

Since Turkey's largest corruption investigation was made public on Dec. 17, 2013, following police operations in the homes and offices of people from the inner circle of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AK Party leadership have accused sympathizers of the Gülen movement, especially those in the police forces and judiciary, of plotting to overthrow the government. The movement strongly rejects the allegations brought against it.

Since the scandal, a number of business groups, media outlets, aid organizations, civil society organizations, universities, private schools and prep schools that were established by people sympathetic to the Gülen movement have been targeted by government-orchestrated police raids and investigations.

Erdoğan openly announced on several occasions after December 2013 that he would carry out a “witch hunt” against everyone with links to the movement. He has also ordered officials in AK Party-run municipalities to seize land and buildings belonging to institutions that are linked to the Gülen movement by any means necessary.

Published on Today's Zaman, 11 February 2016, Thursday