1 – Ban on Bakur – Following last week’s ban of Bakur from the Istanbul Film Festival under direct threat from Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MOCT), cinema industry groups, other festivals, and viewers have banded together in a series of events to show solidarity with the film and to demand changes in the cinema law. The most comprehensive coverage of this multi-faceted story in English is as follows: Constanze Letsch provides a good summary of the situation overall while Yeşim Burul discusses the “certificate issue” used by the MOCT to justify its ban. Today’s Zaman covers the industry press conference in response to the ban, including a list of demands, and also notes IFF’s response to the MOCT’s attempts to place blame on the festival. Alisa Lebow offers useful context on the anti-Kurdish politics that clearly figured in the ban, while Hürriyet Daily News notes some aspects of the spread of this crisis to the Ankara International Film Festival. Beyond these it is worth noting that hundreds gathered for an anti-censorship march on Istiklal Caddesi on Saturday and then for a screening and forum on censorship in Abbasağa Park that night. The next steps may include a protest or march on the Ministry in Ankara this week or next, as part of the Ankara festival. (UPDATE: There’s also my recent piece on the issue for Variety.)
2 – Panic about Armenian past – In the lead-up to the 24 April 100th anniversary commemoration of the mass deportation and execution of Armenians by Ottomans, Turkish politicians and public personas have been in great panic about whether such events should be called “genocide.” Responding to Pope Francis’ use of the word “genocide” President Erdoğan urged the Pope not to repeat this “mistake,” PM Davutoğlu claimed the pontiff had joined a conspiracy against Turkey, and Ankara mufti Professor Mefail Hizli said that such speeches could lead to Hagia Sophia, currently a museum, being re-opened for Muslim worship. Meanwhile, the US called for a “frank” discussion of the facts surrounding the issue, while the European Parliament called the events a genocide. The latter led to Turkey’s three biggest political parties (AKP, CHP, MHP), which can agree about little else, issuing a joint statement of condemnation, and to PM Davutoğlu asking rhetorically why the US and Australia don’t recognize their own genocides of indigenous people. In the midst of this crisis Davutoğlu’s advisor, Etyen Mahçupyan, himself Armenian, said the events were a genocide, an event which coincided with his official retirement from his advisory role. Bosphorus University, in the mean time, has agreed to host a conference titled “Armenian Genocide: Concepts and Comparative Perspectives,” that was originally scheduled to be held at Bilgi University, but temporarily cancelled when the latter withdrew.
3 – Social research – Numerous outlets reported on the results of a recent social research project called “Politics in Turkey, freedom of Press and Internet.” Today’s Zaman highlighted aspects of the report dealing with censorship and the economy, while Hürriyet Daily News interviewed one of the reports’ authors, political science professor Ali Çarkoğlu.
4 – Trials and censorship round-up – President Erdoğan’s son, Bilal, lost a case against Cumhuriyet newspaper journalist Canan Coşkun for alleged insults, but won a case, alongside his farther, against BirGün newspaper journalist Bariş Ince on similar charges. Numerous columnists at Cumhuriyet are currently facing charges of insulting Erdoğan as well, while BirGün journalsit Zeynep Kuray was temporarily detained for alleged slander. Two reporters who have recently been critical of the AK-Party, Ali Aslan Kiliç and Uğur Telil, have been banned from parliament, though Parliament speaker Cemil Çiçek encouraged them to address the ban through legal means, noting he doesn’t want to be known as the speaker who banned the press. The main opposition CHP has filed a complaint against state TV channel TRT over censorship of a political ad, and pro-government media has continued a campaign of what its targets call hate speech, as reported by Today’s Zaman, which is part of the targeted Gülen community media. Finally, Turkey’s constitutional court has upheld a law requiring prison for those found to store what it terms “unnatural” pornography, a category that includes oral, anal, group, gay, or lesbian imagery.
5 – Erdoğan visits drama production – In a gesture marked by multiple symbolic overtones, President Erdoğan visited the set of the Ottoman TV series Filinta and sat in the director’s chair. While there, he and his wife Emine chatted with one of the show’s stars, German actress Wilma Elles. Emine reminded Elles that Erdoğan wants all women in Turkey to have three children, while Erdoğan himself encouraged the actress to become a Turkish citizen.Follow @mediascrnturkey