Turkey’s president has been condemned by a newspaper in Holland after a Dutch reporter was arrested while on holiday – for criticising Tayyip Erdogan in an article.
Columnist Ebru Umar, who is of Turkish descent, was detained by police in Kusadasi, a resort town on the Aegean coast, a week after calling Erdogan a ‘dictator’ in the Dutch free newspaper, Metro.
Another Dutch newspaper, De Telegraaf, has since printed a cartoon image of the Turkish leader on its front page, showing Erdogan as an ape.
— Mike Muller (@_MikeMuller) 25 апреля 2016 г.
The cartoon, called ‘The long arm of Erdogan’, shows the president apparently crushing free speech in Europe. He is shown standing on a rock called ‘Apenrots’ which the Washington Postdescribed as meaning ‘monkey rocks’ – a term it says is sometimes used to refer to a place where one person holds power.
Umar, a well-known atheist and feminist journalist, said she was hauled out of bed and arrested late on Saturday.
Writing in Metro last week, Umar had criticised a Turkish consular official in the Netherlands for asking all Turks there to report incidents of insults against Erdogan in the country. The call was widely criticised and later withdrawn.
Erdogan is known for his readiness to take legal action over perceived slurs. At his behest, prosecutors in Germany are pursuing a comedian for mocking him. Critics say Erdogan uses the courts to stifle dissent.
Umar was released on Sunday after top Dutch officials voiced concerns at her arrest, but is not allowed to leave the country and must report to police twice a week.
Police had questioned her for about 16 hours over two Tweets she had sent in which she sharply criticised Erdogan.
But Umar told the daily Metro, a Dutch newspaper which she writes for, that her Amsterdam apartment was then burgled overnight, saying the door ‘was forced open, and my old computer was taken’.
She took to Twitter on Monday to voice her thanks to everyone for their support during her detention. Although the officers were ‘a bit harsh’ at first, Umar said she had been ‘treated very well.’
Born in The Hague to Turkish parents, Umar has been an outspoken critic of militant Islam, first in columns for the website of Theo van Gogh, who was murdered by a radical Islamist in 2004 after making films critical of the religion.
Writing in Metro and the critical website GeenStijl, she has denounced headscarves, excessive noise from mosques and what she sees as excessive Dutch tolerance, attracting bulging bags of hate mail from furious critics.
Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said Sunday he was ‘relieved’ she had been released, but slammed her arrest, saying he had contacted his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu to voice his ‘regret’ about the case.
‘I made it clear that press freedom and freedom of expression is a good thing,’ Koenders said in a statement.
‘A country that is a candidate to join the EU should continue to push for press freedom and freedom of expression,’ he stressed.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte also telephoned his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu to voice his concerns.
Trials in Turkey for insulting Erdogan have multiplied since his election to the presidency in August 2014, with nearly 2,000 such cases currently open.