Posted by: euromediablog | August 11, 2009

Was Ataturk Really a Gay? Turkey vs. YouTube.

Such type of questions are legally prohibited in  modernTurkey. According to the Ataturk Law from 1951 every insult against the “Father of all Turkish people” is to be banned with up to five years imprisonment for its author. Up to now many authors were charged not only for slandering Ataturk but also for defaming Turkishness as a whole. Such has been  the case with Turkey’s most famous contemporary author Orhan Pamuk.

In the times of nationally operated mass media and publishing sector, safeguarding Turkishness (by censoring and sanctioning anti-turkishness) was not an easy task. In the times of globally uncentralised Internet- it becomes almost impossible. But the Turkish conservative government is least giving it a try.

An anti-Ataturk video on YouTube, that recently portrayed the Turkish Father as gay, is the best example for that. According to the Turkish authorities, the video was a product of Greek  instigation in the context of the ongoing conflict between the two states. The reaction was immediate- on the basis of the Ataturk law (1951) and the Internet Regulation law (2007)  a state court decided to BAN THE WHOLE ACCESS TO YOUTUBE in Turkey. All major internet providers in the country were thus constrained to block  their users from visiting the most popular user generated videosite in the world.

Technically speaking, it is of course  impossible to completely block all users out of YouTube. Implementing proxy servers has turned into common internet know-how for all turkish users, entering YouTube from “censoreship-free” European or American servers – a daily activity. Thus, the censorship-measure of the Turkish government is more spectacular than efficient.

This regulation spectacle, however, turned out to have a significant practical effect on Youtube, as Google’s  user-generated broadcasting service  removed immediately the controversial video from its plattform and wrote an official excuse to the Turkish authorities.

In the end, the ban-free access to the  advertising market of the 71 million country seems to be more important for  YouTube than safeguarding principles like freedom of expression.

In a commercial perspective, this decision makes somehow sense. The cost-benefit ratio for promoting democracy is not amongst the most profitable ones.

At least in our contemporary world.

Related Articles:

Media War in Turkey

No More Music Videos on YouTube

For further information:

Today’s Zaman ; The New York Times Blog; Times Online

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