ALI ASKER: “SOCIAL NETWORKS IN TURKEY WILL BE OPENED”
The Turkish government banned YouTube last week, after Ankara made the same with Twitter. According to the western media there are more than 10 million Turkish users on Twitter in Turkey. Independent experts said that the crackdown is related with nationwide municipal elections, which was held this Sunday. The lecturer of Turkish Karabuk University, Doctor of Law Ali Asker answered questions for newcafe.ge.
- Why Government banned Twitter and Youtube? What are the main and real reasons?
- There are official and unofficial explanations about the banning the access to social networks. Government declares that, they banned the access to Twitter because Twitter had not obeyed Court’s decision. According to the official procedures the implementation of the decision should have taken place within a month. But what about Youtube? Government says it is related to the state security issues. The reason was shown that the content of the discussion about Syria conflict in Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs was leaked to the press, the Turkish Telecommunications Communication Presidency decided to ban the access to Youtube. The ban is still continuing.
- How the society reacted to the banning? What is the reaction of the political parties and media?
- The opposition declared there is no legal basis for the decisions. They even think it is government’s provocation. People in social networks the government in engaging in corruption. At the same time there is not unanimous opinion among the representatives of ruling party related with the issue. Turkish President openly protested against the case. Media criticizes the government and consider the decision as the pressure on freedom of thought. The number of people who protesting against the Government’s decision gradually increases. But it seems that the Prime Minister Erdogan doesn’t have any plan to recede yet. On the contrary he appealed to the court to begin the criminal case about some media representatives “who offend the authorized person of state” with their “abusive twits”.
- What do you think, is the Prime Minister Erdogan able to keep his power? What can you say about current political climate in Turkey?
- I think that Erdogan party (AKP) can pass the election as first party again. But it is very important to balance power in major cities. In Istanbul, opposition candidate Sarigul (from CHP – opposition party) is a strong candidate. However the social base of Istanbul reduces the assumptions that CHP will take victory. The conservative part of the society in Istanbul is as strong as always. But in Ankara we can see different results in this election. In Ankara Mansur Yavash (from CHP) is a strong opponent, at the same time he has nationalist views, therefore his vote potential could be serious in Ankara.
30 March elections are local elections, but the process and the results are extremely important. It is important to pay attention to one issue: In the history of Turkish Republic, traditionally the right and left, secularization and Islamism were against each other in overt or covert way. Same as today. But in recent years we witness some tension decrease. Especially in the conservative election potential. Left side is not as acute secularist as before. Taking into consideration the recent events in Turkey, we cannot claim that the election (in Turkey) is a confrontation between Islamic and secular values. Because, there is a division in conservative side. In the other hand there are serious bribery charges against senior officials from the ruling party who respects primary the Islamic value. According to Islam bribery is one of the serious faults. I mean there is a traditional competition in this election as secularism – Islamism, but it is not as strong as before.
- How Culen Jamaat (one of the main religious movement in Turkey, the leader of this movement Fatullah Gulen lives in US – J.M.) influences Turkey’s policy?
- Gulen Jamaat is the strongest community in Turkey. They have human potential in different positions. They have certain power in media sector and trade. The Government used heavy phrases against Gulen and it caused different reaction both domestically and abroad. In this process there is one subtle point which we should pay attention. There is distance among the Gulen Jamaat and other Islamic communities, even they are competitors. Therefore Gulen’s people have not any serious opportunity to influence the results of these elections. I thing the process which will start after elections will create great interest, so let see.
- What do you think the Turkish Government will do concerning banning social networks?
- Social networks in Turkey will be opened. Ankara Administrative Court already has the decision about the opening the Twitter. I think the Government will change its decision after the social pressure is over.