Turks Ban YouTube

YouTube banned in Turkey after video insults

A holding page on YouTube informs users in Turkey that “Access to this site has been denied by court order!”

A court in Istanbul has issued an order denying access to the video-sharing website YouTube. The state owned Turk Telecom implemented the ban today after an escalating dispute between Greek and Turkish users of the site.

The court order was issued yesterday and most internet users logging onto the site in Turkey are met with a holding page with a Turkish message, which translates as: “Access to this site has been denied by court order ! …”.

Greek and Turkish YouTube users have been trading video insults over the past few months, attracting much coverage in the Turkish press. Greek videos reportedly accused the founding president of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, of homosexuality; a Turkish user responded by calling Greece the birthplace of homosexuality.

It is illegal to criticise either Ataturk or Turkishness in Turkey and the prosecutor’s office in Istanbul acted despite YouTube’s agreement to take down the offending videos.

Image: Mustafa Kemal AtaturkTurkey wishes to join the EU in the next round of enlargement and has been criticised for its failure to safeguard freedom of expression. The country’s most famous author, Orhan Pamuk, faced up to three years in jail after being charged with “insulting Turkishness” after talking to a Swiss newspaper about Turkey’s human rights record. The case was dropped in January after international condemnation.

Nurten Altinok, the press prosecutor at the Istanbul Republican Chief Prosecutor’s Office, asked the Istanbul police to provide evidence of the criticisms of Ataturk on YouTube. After studying a CD of the videos she asked a magistrate to review the case, a court order was issued by an Istanbul criminal court yesterday.

A spokesman from the Turkish Embassy in London said: “The videos included parts which insulted Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, our founding father. There is no explanation from the Turkish government, it was a court verdict. English profanities were placed on top of the Turkish flag and pictures of Ataturk.”

Videos posted on the user-generated site included a Greek marching song, which celebrated the bloody history between the two nations and labelled Turkey “Little Asia”.