SHAFAQNA- Police on Wednesday stopped trucks as they left a pro-secular newspaper’s printing center and checked the paper’s content after it decided to print a selection of Charlie Hebdo caricatures, the paper said.
Cumhuriyet newspaper said police allowed distribution to proceed after verifying that the satirical French newspaper’s controversial cover featuring the Prophet Muhammad was not published.
The paper printed a four-page selection of cartoons and articles on Wednesday in a show of solidarity with Charlie Hebdo but left out cartoons which Muslims may find offensive. However, two Cumhuriyet columnists used small, black-and-white images of the Charlie Hebdo cover as their column headers in Wednesday’s issue.
“While preparing this selection, we respected societies’ freedoms of faith and religious sensitivities,” said Cumhuriyet’s editor-in-chief, Utku Çakırözer.
“Following a large number of consultations, we decided not to include the magazine’s cover page,” Çakırözer said. He did not mention the two columnists’ decision to use images of the cover in their columns.
Caricatures featured in Cumhuriyet included some depicting Pope Francis and French President François Hollande, and one referring to a massacre by Boko Haram in Nigeria.
A deputy from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) filed a parliamentary motion on Wednesday, asking a series of questions to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu about the police check on Cumhuriyet’s content on Wednesday.
Among questions listed by CHP İstanbul deputy Umut Oran were whether Davutoğlu had information about the police action beforehand and how the police can prevent the distribution of a newspaper for minutes without a court order. “Isn’t this against the freedom of the press?” he asked.
TGC condemns police check on Cumhuriyet daily
In a written statement it released on Wednesday, the Turkish Journalists’ Union (TGC) condemned the police check of the trucks at Cumhuriyet, saying that it is censorship.
“We condemn the police’s censorship attempt against the Cumhuriyet newspaper. We maintain that this practice is against the Constitution and media aw,” the statement read.
The statement also said: “The public sees new interventions against people’s right to receive information and learn facts each day in Turkey — which ranks 154th on the World Press Freedom Index. The latest example of this was the police attempt to prevent the distribution of Cumhuriyet without any court order.” It said that this act of the police is an example of censorship.