“Under Erdogan, journalists in peril.” That’s a headline (paper edition) of an article in today’s Washington Post.
Correspondent Chico Harlan provides plenty of evidence to support the headline. The most compelling piece comes from the Committee to Protect Journalists. It found that Turkey jails more journalists than any other nation. Indeed, it jails more than China, Russia, and Egypt combined.
The U.S. under President Trump jails approximately zero journalists. Whining American scribblers refuse to distinguish between criticizing journalists and curbing them.
Given Turkey’s oppression of journalists, it’s almost comical to see its president, Recep Tayip Erdogan, demanding truth and openness in the investigation of the Jamal Khashoggi murder. Harlan notes the irony, including the fact that Khashoggi fled Saudi Arabia because, he said, of constraints on freedom of speech and diminished tolerance for dissent.
Harlan hints at another irony — Khashoggi’s friendship with Erdogan:
Erdogan was said to have a personal relationship with Khashoggi, and they share some views about the place of Islam in politics.
Erdogan’s view, quoted by Harlan, is that the journalists he imprisons for criticizing his regime are “terrorists” and “spies.” Did Khashoggi share this view? Maybe not, but it wasn’t sufficiently off-putting to cause Khashoggi to break with the Turkish strongman.
That’s evidence, I think, that Khashoggi, for all of his talk about democracy and freedom, held a limited, conditional notion of free press and free speech. We can also infer this from Khashoggi’s longtime participation in the Saudi regime.
When Islam has a place in politics, freedom gets crowded out.