Beirut- The Turkish government silenced on Tuesday the last Islamist preacher Fethullah Gülen. Days after a step was taken by the public prosecution authority on assuming guardianship over the “Zaman” wide-spread Turkish daily, “Cihan” news agency was seized and put under the custody of public prosecution.
The media outlet’s takeover did not go smoothly; instead it fell perfectly into the terms of the already ignited clash between “Hizmet” and the Turkish government.
“Hizmet” or otherwise known as the Gülen movement was founded by Fethullah Gülen, former supporter of Turkish President Reccip Tayyip Erdogan. The conflict led to a deep shock for Turkey in 2013, after several public prosecution judges, allegedly supporters of Gülen, side-by-side with policemen threatened to launch a kidnap spree against the children of Erdogan’s administrational ministers and Erdogan’s son as well.
The Erdogan government considered the aforementioned operation as a potential attempt at insurgency and took harsh measures against those assumed to belong to the Gülen movement which was dubbed the “corresponding government”. Among the measures taken was the forced resignation and post altercation of almost 50 thousand judges, public sector employees and policemen.
The next step was attentive to media outlets affiliated with the “Hizmet”. Last year, the government assumed public guardianship over the Samanyolu public media group, which includes a fair number of broadcasting TV channel. Erdogan’s administration then seized the “Zaman” daily newspaper, only to later end any trace of media presence of the Gülen movement by taking over the “Chihan” news agency.
What turned around heads was the utter absence of other media outlet’s support of the newspaper’s takeover. Guardians immediately began “cleansing” within the walls of the newspaper, by firstly terminating the contract with its editor in chief Abd al-Hamid Biliji. The now former editor in chief announced his dismissal after the Istanbul public prosecution office put the public custody over the outlet into effect.
Published on Asharq al-Awsat, 9 March 2016, Wednesday