The mob attack on Istanbul journalist Levent Gultekin, 49, earlier this week has shocked Turkey, and especially the browbeaten media. His fingers were broken as he tried to protect his face when he was kicked on the ground. The whole incident was captured on CCTV and broadcast on Halk TV the same night, March 8.

’’Not so long ago Turkey was a serious candidate for EU membership,’’ said AEJ President Saia Tsaousidou. ’’This violence is part of a craziness which belongs in the past. Yet it seems to be tolerated, sometimes even – incredibly – encouraged by the (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan government. I can only plead with him to come to his senses about this.’’

The brutal attack on Gultekin, a celebrated writer and columnist for the online newspaper Diken and a regular on Halk TV, is only the latest in a series of violent incidents targeting critics of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party. Two journalists and a politician were violently assaulted in the span of 48 hours in the capital, Ankara, earlier in 2021. Orhan Ugurluoglu, also a television commentator and Ankara correspondent for the nationalist Yenicag newspaper, was set upon outside his home.

The attackers warned him to stop criticising the MHP, a junior partner in President Erdogan’s government. The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) says at least 34 journalists were attacked in 2019, and at least 17 similarly targeted in 2020.

In a soon familiar pattern, journalist Sabahattin Onkibar was badly beaten by three assailants outside his home in Ankara shortly after criticising MHP leader Devlet Bahceli in May 2019. Earlier that month, Yenicag columnist Yavuz Selim Demirag needed hospital treatment after being similarly attacked. A bullet had been left in his mailbox.

But demands for an investigation into the assault on Demirag by the opposition IYI Party were blocked by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The IYI Party broke with the MHP in 2017 over the party’s increasing support for Erdogan, causing a rift in Turkey ultranationalist movement that has turned increasingly violent.

On Dec. 28, 2019, an attempted assault on Murat Ide, a Yenicag columnist,and advisor to IYI Party leader Meral Aksener, failed when he began shooting into the air with his licensed revolver. Ide had penned an article for Yenicag titled ‘Devlet Bey, I’m tired!”’ which criticised Bahceli’s leadership of the MHP. No one was arrested.

“The increasing attacks on journalists in Turkey, especially in apparent relation to criticism of ultra-nationalist politicians, are an extremely worrisome trend,” says International Press Institute Programme Coordinator Renan Akyavas. “Moreover, the lack of investigation and the resulting impunity show clearly that Turkey’s journalists are not protected by the authorities and that their safety is at risk.”

Other opposition parties have not escaped either. Workers Party of Turkey (TIP) Deputy Bar?s Atay was attacked in Istanbul on August 31, 2020 following a public row with Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu. In the most notorious incident of its kind, CHP leader Kemal K?l?cdaroglu was subject to an attempted lynching while attending the funeral of a soldier in Ankara on April 21, 2019. Erdogan’s Communications Director Fahrettin Altun commented :“the right to protest is protected by Turkey’s Constitution’’.

Gultekin – ’’end of the road for political Islam’’ : haber/levent-gultekin- political-islam-has-gone- bankrupt-884582