Free Speech Issue In Turkey

The ongoing debate within Turkey regarding rights of free speech continued with the conviction in a Turkish court of a politician who was accused of inciting hatred and violence. Hilmi Aydogdu as found guilty of threatening public safety after hewarned Turkey against taking any action in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk in Iraq. Aydogu, leader of the local branch of the pro-Kurdian Democratic Society Party(DTP) said if Turkey invaded Iraq and attempted to seize Kirkuk, which is heavily Kurdish, then action should be taken against such an assault. The court barred him from further service in political office. He was sentenced to jail for 15 months.

The issue of free speech invariably encounters the classic case of shouting “fire” in a crowded theater. A threat to take action against a government “in case” it invaded a neutral nation is hardly in line with threatening public safety. Turkey has denied ever having such intention so the entire issue of posing a threat to public safety is a moot point.