Thursday saw the start of the trial of Kamil Tekin Sürek, a columnist for the Evrensel daily, on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a November 2017 column titled “Fascist dictatorship” in which he argued that in fascist dictatorships criminal charges would be brought against a person after the slightest criticism of the government.
“I don’t understand why Erdoğan took offense at my column,” Sürek told the court on Thursday, the Evrensel daily reported.
The column was written after a case was brought against Ekrem Eşkinat, the mayor of Tekirdağ from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), for insulting Erdoğan by calling him a “fascist dictator.”
CHP Vice Chairman Bülent Tezcan had also called Erdoğan a “fascist dictator” in support of the mayor at the time.
Eşiknat’s case is still pending.
Sürek had written that “fascist dictator” was not an insult but political terminology like “liberal democrat” or “revolutionary communist,” adding if this term had been considered an insult, but not criticism, then the regime would be called a “fascist dictatorship.”
He had also given examples from history, including Adolf Hitler’s Germany, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Tarek Bin Ali’s Tunisia, categorizing them as highly sensitive to criticism.
Sürek’s lawyer, Devrim Avcı Özkurt, said the article should have been considered an exercise of freedom of expression, adding that the term “fascist dictatorship” was a criticism of the whole system, not President Erdoğan himself.
The next hearing is scheduled for Oct. 24.