Turkish publisher shuts down satirical magazine for "offending religious values"

Una editorial turca cierra su revista satírica por "ofender los valores religiosos"

Latest cover of Girgir magazine 15-21 February 2017

Little joke in Turkey with religion, any joke, no matter how silly or white, can land anyone in jail.

And so dangerous is satire that, as in the case of Girgir magazine, the editors themselves have applied self-censorship, acted as thought police and shut down the publication, firing all the workers.

The magazine Girgir, published by the Estetik publishing house, was distributed as a free weekly supplement to the daily "Sözcü. The editors say they have closed the satirical magazine, one of the most widely read in Turkey, because of a cartoon that was deemed offensive to Jews and Muslims.

Turkish publisher shuts down satirical magazine for "offending religious values"

Seyfi Sahin cartoon that led to the closure ( translation pending)

In the cartoon the Jewish prophet Moses, also considered a holy figure in Islam and Christianity, is telling how he parted the waters of the Red Sea, the people listening to him around him complain, using some swear words, that he always repeats the same stories.

The daily Hurriyet reports that lawyers for the publisher of Girgir magazine said today that the company did not agree with the "disgusting" cartoon mocking Moses and had decided to close the publication and dismiss all its workers.

The magazine also apologised to readers on Twitter, now closed, for "causing harm", while prosecutors are investigating whether the cartoons "denigrated religious values".

Turkish publisher shuts down satirical magazine for "offending religious values"

Girgir, founded in 1972, was Turkey's best-selling satirical magazine in the 1980s and 1990s. Although it closed for a short time after the military coup in 1980, it remained a cult magazine, especially for its political cartoons that circumvented censorship.

Although Turkey is a secular state and has no specific blasphemy laws, the courts have for years condemned any criticism of religion, usually Muslim, by applying Article 216 of the Penal Code, which punishes with up to one year in prison "anyone who openly shows disrespect for the faith of a group of people, if such an act causes a potential risk to public peace".

According to a note from EFE, the publishing house justifies the closure:

"The decision has been taken to close the magazine 'Girgir' and to dismiss all those who worked for it for having published in the last issue an unpleasant caricature," said the publisher's lawyer in a statement published in "Sözcü".

"This caricature has disturbed both society and the publishing house. We believe that one or more employees have published it with the malicious intention of putting the company in a bad light; we are talking about something intentional," he said in the statement.

The cartoon, by "offending religious values", could constitute a crime that will be reported to the Public Prosecutor's Office, the publisher's statement concludes.



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