Article 216 of the Penal Code, covering ‘inciting hatred’, must be more clearly formulated as to include racism and anti-Semitism. It must be rigorously implemented. But in order to avoid, court rulings, the media outlets must set a filter mechanism inside newsrooms.At a conference held earlier this month by the Hrant Dink International Foundation, a study was unveiled that documented hate speech in the Turkish press among members of ethnic and religious minority groups. The study did not include other marginalized groups, such as women, LGBT people, or people with disabilities, nor did it cover all minority groups subject to hate speech or claim to do so. From Today's Zaman:
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Columns that contain hate speech must be prevented from going to print or edited out. Each media outlet must internally ‘educate’ its reporters and editors on the subject. And, both ombudsmen and the press councils must pay attention to violations. Lastly, civil society must display vigilance and monitor the media on a daily basis and publicly complain or file for indictment.
The study, which made public the results of the foundation’s study of the Turkish national press, looked into 24 newspapers with high levels of circulation, leaving aside their supplements.For more on the conference, see this Bianet report. For Baydar's op/ed on the subject in Today's Zaman, wherein the columnist also points a strong accusative finger at Hurriyet and the Dogan Media Group, click here.
The most targeted groups were Turkish citizens of Kurdish and Armenian origin. Greeks, Christians in general and Jews were also often the subjects of news stories or columns that contained hate speech.
The study considered bad language/defamation/insult; animosity/wartime discourse; exaggeration/ascribing/distortion; and stereotyping while examining the articles.
Three quarters of the hate speech identified by the researchers was found in columns; the rest was in news articles. The study examined newspapers published in August, September, October and November of last year.
While hate speech found its way easily to the pages of the H.O. Tercüman, Ortadoğu, Vakit, Yeniçağ, Sözcü and Türkiye dailies -- considered nationalist and conservative, and somewhat marginalized with their limited circulation -- it was also in the mainstream Hürriyet and Star dailies, although less so in the latter.
For more on the lawsuit filed by the Diyarbakir Bar Association against Yilmaz Ozdil, see this Bianet report.
Further, it should be noted that Article 216 has been used against minority groups before. While a new law may well be needed, I am skeptical as to just how it would work and who all might be using it. For more on this point, see Jan. 24 post. Hate speech legislation is rarely easy, even with a well-functioning judiciary.