An exclusive article for AFDI from renowned Italian journalist Giulio Meotti:
Even William Shakespeare’s plays have been prohibited in the re-Islamicized Turkey. This is because repression under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan never rests: the novelist Asli Erdogan, the linguist Necmiye Alpay, the liberal columnist Sahin Alpay, and the editor-in-chief of the secularist Cumhuriet daily Murat Sabuncu are just some of the intellectuals jailed by Erdogan; Nedim Gürsel, author of the novel The Daughters of God, was tried because in the Koran the “Son of God” is a blasphemy; Irfan Sanci has been persecuted for having published The Soft Machine by William Burroughs; the caricaturist Musa Kart was prosecuted for having painted Erdogan as a cat; the archaeologist Muazzez Ilmiye Cig was accused of “insulting Islam” for claiming that the use of the veil dated back to before Mohammed; and the pianist Fazil Say was put on trial for mocking Islam. Many journalists left the country, such as Can Dundar, who left after surviving an assassination attempt outside the court. In the museums, foreign ambassadors are now executed by Islamists in broad daylight.
Mr. Erdogan is busy in reviving the days when free speech was repressed beyond the Iron Curtain. But then, at least, a German or Frenchman or Briton could claim that there is a difference between Berlin and Moscow, Paris and Budapest, London and Prague: freedom of expression is what gave us Western culture, capitalism and free newspapers, not Communism, gulags and Pravda.
Now it seems that those days are gone. We are no longer proud of that difference.
In the last few weeks, Germany has prepared a powerful offensive to close the mouth and broke the pen of the critics of multiculturalism under the excuse of crushing “fake news”. Facebook is introducing new tools to obscure the “fake news” ahead of Germany’s elections, after EU’s digital chief, Andrus Ansip, warned social media companies to take a stronger stance or face action from Brussels. The German Interior Ministry is creating a “Center of Defense Against Misinformation” to help eradicate “false informations”, which is reminiscent of Josef Goebbels’ attack on the Lügenpresse, the “lying media”. German lawmaker Patrick Sensburg, a member of Merkel’s Christian Democrats, suggested to consider “ratcheting up the statutory offenses” against fake news producers and “take action against the people who run these websites”. German justice minister, Heiko Maas, is also thinking at new regulations: media owners should be held criminally liable for failing to remove “hate speech”. Who decide what is “fake news” and “hate speech”? The government and the mainstream media, off course. The political elite correlating with the media élite. Large German companies, such as Deutsche Telekom, Bmw and Mercedes-Benz, have already placed Breitbart on a blacklist. The brave website Axis of Good, edited by my friend Henryk Broder, was placed on a list of “popular right-wing blogs” by the Network Against Nazis, a leftist association which receives financing from the government. Even the liberal newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau compared these crazy proposals to the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984”.
Maybe something very serious happened to the German democratic antibodies when Erdogan declared his war on free speech. It seems that Berlin is now introducing sharia like values.
Erdogan, in fact, not satisfied with repressing Turkish journalists, promoted a campaign to silence the European media. A Turkish daily, Zaman France, closed its French edition after receiving hundreds of death threats for its criticism of Erdogan. Zaman France’s editor, Emre Demir, denounced Erdogan’s “will to import the repression into Europe”. Erdogan sued Mathias Döpfner, the head of the Axel Springer Verlag, the most prestigious German publisher, for having expressed solidarity with Jan Böhmermann, a journalist attacked for his satire of Erdogan and banned by a German court from repeating those verses. Turkey’s president has ordered the arrest of Ebru Umar, a Dutch journalist who mocked him on Twitter, and has filed a suit against the daily De Telegraaf, which published a caricature of Erdogan as a monkey crushing freedom of speech. Erdogan then threatened the Dutch comedian, Hans Teeuwen, who on a radio show lashed out at the Turkish president, covering him with epithets. Erdogan tried to censor the German orchestra of Dresden, which performed a concert marking the Islamic genocide of the Christian Armenians.
By closing its eyes to Erdogan’s campaign against freedom of expression or even allowing the Turkish ruler to punish a comedian such as Böhmermann, Merkel and Germans ended up with assimilating the same Islamic rules to crush free speech in their own country.
After the publication of “The Gulag Arcipelago”, the Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn found exile in Germany. But what if at the time, the writer Heinrich Böll had refused to open his house in Cologne to Solzhenitsyn? What if the cancellor at the time, Willy Brandt, had criticized Solzhenitsyn’s masterpiece as “disinformation” to please the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev? What if, at the time, a court had forbidden Solzhenitsyn to read from his book in public as a “right wing populist”?
It is not unimaginable in today’s Germany.
Giulio Meotti, cultural editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author. He is a columnist at Arutz Sheva and a contributor to Gatestone Institute. He wrote 3 books about Israel, including “A New Shoah. The untold story of Israel’s victims of terrorism” (Encounter Books), about Charlie Hebdo and the last one titled “La fine dell’Europa”, about Christian and demographic decline in Europe.