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If you were asked for the greatest menace facing society, what would you go for? Something like war, famine, disease, religion, capitalism or perhaps global warming and impending environmental disaster? No, perhaps you’d plump for something more specific depending on your location perhaps malaria, HIV or your local dictator someone like Robert Mugabe?
Well whatever your choice, I suspect not many would pick Twitter or Facebook – but that’s seems to be the choice of Recep Erdogan, the Prime Minister of Turkey. The quote was –
“Social media is the worst menace to society”
Well I think what he really means, is that social media is a menace to those in power especially when your people don’t like very much what you’re doing to their country.
The backdrop for this idiotic comment is of course the protests in Turkey. Starting in Istanbul seemingly with a small protest trying to save a park, the authorities piled in the police with tear gas and water cannons. Suddenly the hundred became thousands and then hundreds of thousands as the protests spread across the country through the major cities. Paul Mason of the BBC a veteran reporter of these protests has been shocked at the sheer size.
This of course put’s the prime ministers quotes into context, if my people were rising up against me – I suspect I would also consider Twitter to be a real menace.
This has of course moved on from the protest about a park in Istanbul. The cries from the crowd are along the lines “long? live atatürk and f*ck erdogan”. Kemil Atatürk, the founder of the modern Turkish Republic is rightly still a hero to many Turkish especially the young. They have seen however the model of a free, democratic, secular society slowly being eroded by a religious man who seems to have been in power for too long.
Just for clarification – secular means keeping religion out of government, whereas the President seems intent in turning Turkey into an Islamic state. His latest laws are restrictions on the sale of alcohol – he mentions that people who drink are alcoholics anyway. The internet has been heavily filtered over the years with most of the social networking sites being blocked at some point over the years.
That’s not all many gay and lesbian sites (message boards, information sites, not pornography) have been banned, Richard Dawkin’s site was banned after he ridiculed a book on creationism, the list get’s longer and longer every year in fact you need a proxy unlock program for even the most benign sites in many cases. Many Turkish people and indeed a vast number of expats who live in the country have used proxy sites for some time to be able to access sites often blocked by the Turkish Government.
Here’s hoping it can be resolved peacefully and the Turkish people get the government they want and deserve.