Arato Adrift: Turkish State Seizes Control of Newspaper


ISTANBUL – The Turkish state has decided to take over the “opposition” newspaper Zaman, which belongs to the religious and political movement of Fethullah Gülen, a well-known CIA agent who worked with the “Association to Fight Communism” in the east of Turkey in the 80s and early 90s, and who more recently has founded wholesome religious schools in former Warsaw Pact countries.

Reactions to the move were mixed. Ahmet Hakan, a well known Turkish journalist and poster-child for opportunism in Turkey, said: “Finally, after some 2 years of trouble, they are back where they belong. I am so happy about this. The media in Turkey are like a great family, supporting our beloved president in manifold ways. The media not supporting him are clearly traitors and terrorists. I want to add that I was always in support of the president, but I tried to present a moderate opposition, to create the impression that there were actually different opinions possible in the Turkish media. Unfortunately some of the AKP’s followers did not understand my subtle technique and beat me up. Since then I am more straightforward. With Zaman back in the fold, we are one step closer to crushing press terrorism in its entirety.”

Andrew Arato, Today’s Zaman’s only remaining American reader [the English-language version of Zaman, – WS], was in Istanbul at a HDK-sponsored conference when the news broke. Upon hearing the word “Kurdistan” once during the question and answer session, he ceased to speak in political or academic jargon and reverted to vulgar insults aimed at the entire audience:

“You’re all fuckin’ idiots! You’re just a bunch of fuckin’ terrorists! You should all pick up AK-47s if you’re gonna talk like this! Stop dividing Turkey, you fuckin’ Kurdish nationalist idiots!”

After the conference, Mr. Arato confided in us: “My only source of information on Turkey was Today’s Zaman. Now that they’re pro-government again, I don’t know what to do. How can I look like a critic of the system when the system keeps taking control of the only news sources moderate enough for my pseudo-leftist values? Soon I’m going to be left alone with these fuckin’ idiots who can’t see that the PKK and the Palestinians are responsible for all the Middle East’s problems.”

At that moment, an excited Levent Gültekin managed to break through the crowd of “fuckin’ idiot” Turkish and Kurdish leftists to ask Arato if he would be interested in having his “insightful” talk printed in Diken, or even in becoming a regular contributor to Diken.

Gültekin also stated: “Look, I admired Zaman. There analysis of fascism and oppression in Turkey was sharp and highly complex. They put forth the theory that the freedom of the press existed in Turkey so long as their own freedoms were not under attack. Fascism also was theorised to emerge at that moment when Today’s Zaman’s editorial staff was no longer free to express their views. Their reporting on Gezi and Kurdistan was also correct and objective.”

“But there’s one key issue: Zaman’s editorial staff won’t drink rakı with me. That’s why I write for Diken, and I hope that Arato will help me out by writing similarly defeatist and pacifist pieces for the English language page of Diken, as I write for the main Turkish page.”


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