Hate speech, hate crimes?


by Today's Zaman

What is happening in Samatya? Can it be a coincidence that on four occasions in the past few weeks, elderly women living on their own -- all of them of Armenian descent -- were targeted in brutal attacks? The latest assault took place on Tuesday, when 83-year-old Sultan Aykar was severely beaten by a masked assailant. Her cries alerted the neighbors and the perpetrator fled. She is now in hospital and risks losing an eye. Another victim, aged 87, lost sight in one eye after being battered in early December, while 84 year-old Maritsa Küçük died on Dec. 28 after being repeatedly stabbed. A fourth elderly woman narrowly escaped being kidnapped in early January.

These attacks do not bear the hallmark of burglaries gone awry. Home thefts are not uncommon in İstanbul, as in all big cities, but Sultan Aykar's attacker -- said to be around 35, dressed entirely in black and wearing a ski mask -- did not even pick up her handbag.

This spate of attacks has inevitably rekindled concerns among non-Muslims in Turkey and raised suspicion that they are part of an organized drive against Armenians. Civil society organizations are following these incidents closely and demanding answers and improved security measures in areas like Samatya where many of Turkey's remaining Armenians reside. The Human Rights Association paid a visit to police headquarters on Wednesday and alerted the authorities to the possibility that these attacks may be hate crimes. The police are investigating but have so far not identified the culprits.

Six years after the murder of journalist Hrant Dink -- targeted after a long media and judicial campaign identifying him as an internal enemy -- has the risk of hate crimes receded? Has Turkey become a more inclusive society?

The Media Ethics Platform organized a panel on hate speech and the role played by the media in Dink's death last weekend, chaired by our colleague Yonca Poyraz Doğan. Journalist Kemal Göktaş, who has written a book on the issue, reminded the audience that the free-for-all against Dink in the media had started after the General Staff condemned Dink for an article suggesting that Atatürk's adopted daughter, Sabiha Gökçen, was Armenian.

The (relatively) good news is that Dink's murder seriously shook Turkey, and mainstream media outlets publish fewer openly biased headlines. But if discrimination has become more discreet and the most egregious headlines are to be limited to a few nationalist newspapers, prejudice has not disappeared and media members still tend to take their cues from officialdom, as they promote a nationalist ideology that sees Sunni Turks as the "real" citizens of this country.

In fact, the Media Watch on Hate Speech Project set up by the Hrant Dink Foundation, which monitors the national and local press for news and statements targeting specific groups, noticed an increase in prejudiced and provocative statements in the media in the first half of 2012. According to the latest report they published, for the May-August 2012 period, non-Muslims -- Armenians, Christians, Jews, Greeks -- were the main targets, but Kurds, women and homosexuals were also subjected to insults, distorted reports or demeaning statements in parts of the media.

No country is free of discrimination. As we all know, Muslims in Western societies are often at the receiving end of preconceived opinions in Western societies. In Turkey, biased or provocative headlines tend to ebb and flow in line with the political agenda, peaking during times of crises. The politicians' attitude, the language they use and how they respond to situations that have the potential to reinforce erroneous perceptions and divide society are therefore crucial.

Raising awareness of hate speech and monitoring the media is important, but ultimately politicians have to take the lead if Turkey is to become a genuinely inclusive society in which all citizens, irrespective of their origins, are equal in reality as well as on paper. Let's hope that the authorities are taking a close interest in the Samatya attacks and a thorough investigation will swiftly lead to the perpetrators' arrest.

The discourse of the war defeat in Armenian online media Irates. Armenian “Ararat” defeats “Philip Morris” in court Impunity of Maragha massacre gave way to creation of atmosphere of permissiveness – Armenia’s Deputy FM U.S. Congressional leaders call on President Trump to properly commemorate Armenian Genocide FM Edward Nalbandian to visit Warsaw Artsakh Defense Army: Adversary breaks the ceasefire 50 times Remarks of the President of Armenia, Chairman of the Republican Party of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan at the RPA Council meeting The 11th International Festival of Puppet Theatres will launch on September 9 with the support of Coca-Cola Hellenic Armenia Company Festive mood and Coke from Coca-Cola Hellenic Armenia The newly appointed Ambassador of Georgia in Armenia Giorgi Saganelidze presented his credential to the President Coca-Cola Hellenic Armenia and Art Lunch employees have cleaned up Dalar river bank Flood-affected citizens in Artik got financial aid from ARMBUSINESSBANK "Yell Extreme Park" the piece of craziness in Armenia Coca-Cola Hellenic Armenia and USAID partner to address water stewardship in Ararat Valley President Serzh Sargsyan visited today the Embassy of France in Yerevan President Serzh Sargsyan met with the US Secretary of State John Kerry Coca-Cola Hellenic Armenia Company distributed soft drinks to the guests of “Vardavar” festival President Serzh Sargsyan received members of the Council of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Collective Security Treaty Organization Congratulatory message by president Serzh Sargsyan on the occasion of Constitution day French parliament unanimously adopted bill to criminalise the denial of Armenian Genocide 5 lucky winners of Coca-Cola EURO 2016 promo are off to France to watch Germany vs Italy quarter final President Serzh Sargsyan received tonight the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier High-level Armenian-Czech negotiations took place at the Presidential Palace Coca-Cola Hellenic Armenia Company celebrates International Children’s day President Serzh Sargsyan participated at the session of the Supreme Council of the Eurasian Economic Union Buy a “Coca-Cola” soft drink; win a ticket for UEFA Euro 2016 Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company Armenia celebrates the 20th Anniversary Mardakert overcomes a bad dream "The Lavrov document" does not exist, and peacekeepers will be deployed only in the final stage of the conflict resolution: Igor Popov The RA President has discussed with the co-chairs the situation on the contact line after the Azerbaijani aggression James Warlick on human rights violations: We have seen the photos, we are deeply troubled President Serzh Sargsyan met with first President Levon Ter-Petrosyan to discuss Four Day War About 60 organisations call on US president to investigate into allegations of Azerbaijan’s collaboration with ISIS The #KarabakhNow | Against International Inactivity protest will take place at Republic Square International press compares the actions of Azerbaijan forces in Artsakh to the atrocities done by ISIS Parties to Karabakh conflict agree to cease fire for 5 hours Sargsyan to Medvedev: They diminished authority of EAEU The rival continues provocations Azerbaijan shells settlements of Armenia’s Tavush and Gegharkunik provinces NKR Defense Army destroyed an adversary drone
Most popular
website by Sargssyan