Purported cartoon of Prophet Muhammad published in Cumhuriyet’s opinion columns, but not in its news pages.
A Turkish daily has published cartoons from the latest edition of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which came under a deadly attack last week, as Turkish police took tight security measures around the Turkish newspaper’s headquarters.
Secularist Cumhuriyet newspaper published four pages of translated Charlie Hebdo cartoons on Wednesday, the same day the latest edition of Charlie Hebdo came out.
The weekly French newspaper’s cover purportedly depicts Prophet Muhammad crying and holding a sign reading, “I am Charlie” with the words “All is forgiven” written above him.
Although Cumhuriyet chose not to publish the cover in its news pages, two writers, Ceyda Karan and Hikmet Cetinkaya, have put the cartoon in their columns.
Karan, who was contacted by Al Jazeera, refused to comment on the issue. Cetinkaya could not immediately be reached for comment.
Later on Wednesday, a Turkish court ordered the country’s telecommunications authority to ban access to web pages showing Charlie Hebdo’s front cover, Turkey’s state-run news agency said.
The Anatolia news agency said the court in the city of Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey ordered the ban.
A total of 17 people, including journalists and police officers, died in the assault on Charlie Hebdo’s office last week and in a bloody hostage situation at a kosher supermarket two days later.
Millions of copies of the special Charlie Hebdo issue on the attack were sold out after they were distributed across France on Wednesday.
Renald Luzier, the cartoonist who drew the cover image under the pen name “Luz”, said it represents “just a little guy who is crying”, adding: “Yes, it is Muhammad.”
Cumhuriyet’s pages included Charlie Hebdo articles and cartoons satirising Nigerian armed group Boko Haram and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group.
The newspaper is known for its strong opposition to the policies of the ruling Justice and Development Party and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In ‘soldarity’ with Charlie Hebdo
In a statement via his Twitter account, Ufuk Cakirozer, the editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet, said that his newspaper stood in “solidarity” with Charlie Hebdo for press freedom.
“We have lost our writers in terror attacks. We understand the pain of the Charlie Hebdo massacre,” he said.
“As part of our solidarity, we have published four pages of Charlie Hebdo cartoons in our special issue. However, as part of our principles, we have been delicate on freedom of religion and religious sensitivities… We have not put the cover page of the newspaper in our Wednesday issue.”
In a public statement on Wednesday afternoon, Cumhuriyet said it “had no intention to take on or target anybody’s religious or sacred values”, adding that it would continue to defend freedom of speech.
Starting very early on Wednesday morning, Turkish police blocked the streets leading to Cumhuriyet’s offices, and took comprehensive measures around the building in case of potential aggression against the newspaper.
At the same time, police searched trucks leaving a printing house with Cumhuriyet’s Wednesday edition.
In the earlier reports, Turkish media said that police allowed circulation because the selected cartoons did not feature the cover. However, the cover was featured in the two columns.
The Istanbul prosecutor’s office gave the green light to the circulation of Cumhuriyet following the search, Turkish media reported.
Yalcin Akdogan, a senior adviser to Erdogan, said on his Twitter account that the Turkish government “condemn the incitements, attacks and provocations against Islamic symbols as they condemn the Paris attack.”
“[The ones] who ignore the values of Muslims by publishing figures referring to our holy prophet are in an act of provocation,” Akdogan said.
“[The ones] who take pride in targeting religions are heating up Islamophobia. This mentality, whatever tool they use, is a threat to the world peace.”
Several people were detained on Wednesday night after a demonstration against Cumhuriyet close its offices.
Protesters gathered outside the premises of the daily in Istanbul, chanting slogans such as, “Cumhuriyet will answer”, “This is Turkey, not France” and “Kouachi brothers are our pride”.
The Kouachi brothers, who attacked Charlie Hebdo, were killed in a police operation in France last week.
Later on Wednesday, T24, a Turkish liberal news website, published the whole Charlie Hebdo special issue “to support freedom of speech” and “to stand solidarity against terror”.