Passport

In Turkey, Don’t Even Insult Erdogan in Your Own Home

A Turkish man filed a legal complaint against her wife for insulting Erdogan inside their home.

ANKARA, TURKEY - FEBRUARY 17: President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during the 2th Local administrators meeting at Presidential complex in Ankara, Turkey on February 17, 2016. (Photo by Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Turkish Presidency/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ANKARA, TURKEY - FEBRUARY 17: President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during the 2th Local administrators meeting at Presidential complex in Ankara, Turkey on February 17, 2016. (Photo by Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Turkish Presidency/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Last month, Turkish officials sent a simple reminder to police stations in all 81 of the country’s provinces: If anyone insults the government, take legal action against them immediately. Apparently that suggestion trickled down to civilians, too.

On Monday, the pro-government newspaper Yeni Safak reported that a truck driver was filing a legal complaint against his wife for insulting hardline Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and changing the television channel every time Erdogan came on air.

His wife’s response? She filed for divorce.

The husband, who is identified by Yeni Safak only as 40-year-old Ali D., reportedly told the newspaper that he “kept on warning her, saying, ‘why are you doing this? Our president is a good person and did good things for Turkey.’” His wife, identified only as G.D., then encouraged him to file a complaint if he took such issue with her political opinions.

Ali took that suggestion literally, and submitted recordings of his wife’s rants against Erdogan to prosecutors in the western city of Izmir.

“Even if it is my father who swears against or insults the president, I would not forgive and I would complain,” Ali told the newspaper this week.

The case is the latest in a string of complaints against civilians who have insulted the president, which Erdogan’s administration claims is a violation of the country’s penal code. Activists fear that the crackdown violates freedom of speech and has created a culture of fear, even in private places like this couple’s home.

Student activists, journalists, and members of the opposition have been among those most commonly questioned for insults again the president. Last fall, a Turkish doctor also found himself in the government’s crosshairs, after he posted a meme comparing Erdogan to the fictional character of Gollum from the popular Lord of the Rings series.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Siobhán O’Grady is a freelance journalist working across sub-Saharan Africa. She previously worked as a staff writer at Foreign Policy. @siobhan_ogrady

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola