Charlie Hebdo: Turkish court orders ban on web pages featuring front cover

Court orders ban on accessing online news portals which feature satirical magazine’s depiction of the prophet Muhammad

A police officer stands guard at the entrance of Cumhuriyet, the leading Turkish secular newspaper. Photograph: AP

A Turkish court has ruled to block some web pages featuring the cover of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The Diyarbakir 2nd Criminal Court of Peace ordered the country’s telecommunications authority to ban access to some online news portals showing Charlie Hebdo’s latest front cover, which depicts an image of the prophet Muhammad. The semi-official Anadolu news agency said the court ordered the ban on Wednesday morning.

Twelve people died in an attack on Charlie Hebdo’s Paris offices last week.

Also on Wednesday, Turkish police stopped and searched trucks leaving the printing press of the Turkish secular newspaper Cumhuriyet after it had announced that it would distribute a four-page selection of the latest issue in an act of solidarity.

According to the newspaper, police allowed the trucks to proceed after a 40-minute search and verification that the latest cover was not published in the Cumhuriyet supplement.

Turkey currently ranks 154 out of 180 countries on RSF’s press freedom index.

Utku Çakirözer, Cumhuriyet’s editor-in-chief, had earlier said that his paper had decided not to publish the cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammad in tears holding a sign that reads “Je suis Charlie”, in reference to worldwide solidarity protests with the French weekly.

“When preparing this supplement and while holding up our editorial guidelines we have been attentive to religious sensitivities and freedom of religion in our society”, he tweeted on 13 January. “Following long consultations we decided not to include the magazine’s cover.”

Despite the newspaper’s decision not to publish any of the more controversial caricatures, Turkish police took extreme security measures around Cumhuriyet offices in Istanbul and Ankara.

One Cumhuriyet contributor told the Turkish media that they had received “hundreds of death threats”. Pro-government newspaper Yeni Şafak attacked Cumhuriyet for its decision to include the Charlie Hebdo supplement. “Cumhuriyet will be complicit with a magazine that insults sacred values and that commits hate crimes against Muslims and insults religion”, the daily said.

The opposition Republican People’s party (CHP) harshly criticised the police raid on Cumhuriyet trucks. Addressing Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in a parliamentary motion, MP Umut Oran said: “Did you give the order for the raid while you were marching for press freedom in Paris? Is [this raid] not against freedom of expression?”

The latest issue of the magazine, published on Wednesday, will be printed in 14 languages, including Turkish and Arabic. Gérard Biard, editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo, told reporters that the Turkish version of the weekly was the most crucial. “Turkey is going through a difficult time and secularism is under attack there”, he told Agence France-Presse.

The announcement triggered both support and widespread outrage on social media in Turkey. The hashtag #ÜlkemdeCharlieHebdoDağitilamaz (Charlie Hebdo cannot be distributed in my country) shot to the top of the Twitter trending list by noon on Wednesday and was used by over 1,400,000 people, according to

Three of Turkey’s largest political satire magazines – Leman, Penguen and Uykusuz – bore the words “Je suis Charlie” on their covers on Wednesday.