Zaman papers are owned by Fethullan Gülen movement and considered to be close to AKP government. Lately Islamist Gülen’s followers were accused of infiltrating security forces ranks as well as bureaucratic ranks. A book written by Ahmet Şık about Gülen’s organization was banned before it was published and Şık was arrested.
In the article that caused him his job Finkel writes about his hopes and aspirations when he accepted the position of a columnist in Today’s Zaman:
“Turkey is a nation which has declared itself engaged in a process of reform. It is redefining many of its values. It is re-examining [the] cherished notion of sovereignty as it negotiates with Brussels. It is rethinking international priorities as it eyes troubles in the Middle East. It is looking harder at the received wisdom about its history and traditions. At the ballot box, in the work place or in meetings with teachers after school, it is redefining the individual’s relationship to the community and the state. This is not a time for ‘us’ and ‘them’, for one set of truths for home and one set for abroad.”
But recently, especially after his comments on Şık’s arrest, things seem to alter for Finkel:
“I have already expressed my concern that the fight against anti-democratic forces in Turkey has resorted to self-defeating anti-democratic methods. This in turn has led to a polarization in Turkey. If your side loses power then the natural fear is that they will use your methods against you. In case this sounds like I am speaking in riddles, I am referring to the aggressive prosecution of people who write books. These may be bad books, they may be books which are written with ulterior motives, they may be books which contain assertions which are not true. But at the end of the day, they are books – and there are libel courts – not criminal courts – designed to protect individuals from malicious falsehood. In short, writing a book offensive to the Gülen community is not a crime.
we can only question the motives of those who don’t want us to read it. It blackens the names of the censors, increases the credibility of a book which no one has even read. It’s also extremely foolish because in an age of Internet, you can’t actually stop people from whispering your backs. The point about the ostrich with its head in the sand is that it only fools itself.”
Finkel’s words speak for themselves. They are living proof that in Turkey if you criticize the government, or one of the Islamist groups upon which the government’s power on public is based, your world as you know it ends abruptly. You are fired and ex-communicated if you are a foreigner. If you are Turkish, you find yourself behind bars until you see the verdict in your day at court. Which seldom comes within months, or years, usually within decades.
Yes, Turkey is a constitutional democracy. And yes, in Turkey press is free.