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Media group sues nationalist newspaper for making two of its women journalists public targets of hatred

(BIANET/IFEX) - The Dogan media group is filing a suit against the nationalist "Halka ve Olaylara Tercüman" ("Interpreter of the People and Events") newspaper for making two of its journalists, Perihan Magden and Ece Temelkuran, public targets of hatred.

The media group's lawyers filed a complaint with the Bakirköy Chief Public Prosecution on 7 February 2008, demanding that editor-in-chief Ufuk Büyükcelebi and editor Mustafa Dolu be prosecuted for the unattributed articles, published on 18 and 19 January, that insulted and vilified Magden and Termlkuran. The two women work for the "Radikal" and "Milliyet" newspapers, respectively, both of which are owned by the Dogan media group.

The controversy stems from an incident in which a group of high school students drew a Turkish flag in their own blood and sent it to the Chief of General Staff Büyükanit, who showed it to journalists in January, expressing his pride in the children. "Halka ve Olaylara Tercüman" even distributed promotional copies of this "flag" to its readers.

Magden's subsequent column on 15 January, entitled, "Flag of Blood", condemned the militarist, war-mongering and violent atmosphere which had inspired the children to such an act, as well as Büyükanit's reaction. She ended her article thusly: "No one should die on this soil anymore. There should be no more odes to being killed and killing in this country. Let there be no applause and tears for such pathological expressions on this soil. Let there be no more discourse of 'martyrs'."

Temelkuran's article of 18 January, entitled "Bloodflag, Flagblood", said: "If only this noise, which makes flags out of children and dead children out of flags, would end."

"Halka ve Olaylara Tercüman" reacted with two articles. On 18 January its headline read: "Answer this ugly woman", while a sub-heading read: "This is the woman who insults children and martyrs." On 19 January, it published an article entitled "These women have lost their way", which included the two journalists' photographs and the following passage: "While reactions against the flag-enemy Magden are continuing, another ugly (person) has emerged. Ece Temelkuran has also had the cheek to insult the Turkish flag and has committed a crime (. . .). Reactions continue to flood in against 'Radikal' newspaper journalist Perihan Magden, whose name has been associated with polemics recently, and her ugly words, which are remote from a Turkish identity."

More than 160 people, among them academics and human rights activists, have reacted in the press against this attack, emphasising that, with such dangerous campaigns, newspapers like "Halka ve Olaylara Tercüman" make people a target of public vilification.

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