Pro-gov’t journalist gets prison sentence on charges of insulting Atatürk

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A pro-government Turkish journalist has been handed down a prison sentence of one-and-a-half years on charges of insulting the memory of Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Tuesday.

Tezcan was sentenced by an İstanbul court due to a tweet in July 2016 in which he called Atatürk the “Jew who sold the caliphate to the British,” referring to Atatürk’s abolishment of the caliphate in 1924 following the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923.

The court did not suspend Tezcan’s sentence for a variety of reasons including his criminal record and his “tendency to commit crimes”; however, Tezcan is not expected to actually serve time in prison.

Law 5816, titled “The Law Concerning Crimes Committed Against Atatürk,” protects “the memory of Atatürk” from insult by any Turkish citizen. An offense against the memory of Atatürk is punishable by up to three years in prison.

Tezcan, who is known to be a propagandist for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is notorious for his employment of hate speech against groups targeted by Erdoğan’s government, mainly the faith-based Gülen movement.

He shocked many when he said on a live YouTube broadcast in August that followers of the Gülen movement should be massacred right away and that “it would be a waste” to use rat poison to kill them.

“I would even consider any rat poison used to kill those dishonorable murderers who attacked the Turkish people and government on July 15 [coup attempt] wasted,” Tezcan said. “Even rat poison has its uses. It gets rid of rats because they’re harmful. … All those murderers should be massacred right away, right now! They should be executed by our state. OUR state.”

Tezcan was defending the supporters of Erdoğan who discussed on Clubhouse how to exterminate alleged followers of the Gülen movement who are currently in Turkish prisons.

Erdoğan and his government hold the movement responsible for a failed coup in July 2016 while the movement strongly denies any involvement.

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