Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Erdogan: Epitome of Hypocrisy?

Rabin Man Shakya

The role and scope of social media is increasing everyday. Social media has served as a primary channel of criticism against injustice and wrong doings.

Remember when a wave of demonstrations broke out in the Middle East during the 2011 Arab Spring, protesters turned to social media to share information with an international audience.

Social media helps people mobilize and organize and it helps audience and reporters from afar keep track of different sources and perspectives.

Social media is playing a big role as a custodian of democracy and human rights abuse. Just like the mainstream media, the social media is enhancing its role and presence as a watchdog against authoritarianism.

It is no wonder that some authoritarian governments and powerful political parties are vulnerable to the social media sites. Therefore, some countries are trying to step up their presence in the social media sites by employing thousands of youths to that effect. China is prominently one of these countries and according to a Wall Street Journal news story, Turkey has jumped on the social media bandwagon.

The Wall Street Journal published a news story on September 17, 2013 under the headline "Turkey takes on social media" that begins with: "Turkey's ruling party, facing the threat of fresh anti-government demonstrations, is boosting its presence in a sphere lon dominated by the opposition: social media."

The Justice and Development Party, led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is recruiting a 6,000 member social media team to woo citizens and fight critics, the Wall Street Journal reported from Ankara quoting the party officials.

WSJ news story goes on: "The AKP is gradually bringing  young, tech-savvy party members to Ankara to train them in classrooms to act as volunteer social media representatives."

According to the news story, "The initiative comes after the party, which has governed Turkey since 2002, faced the biggest popular challenge to its rule in June when hundreds of thousands of Turks to the street and social media to protest against what they say called Mr. Erdogan's increasingly autocratic governing style."

The Turkish prime minister Erdogan who himself has 3.4 million Twitter followers says: "Now we have a menace that is called Twitter. The best examples of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society." (The New York Times/June 3, 2013/"Turkey premier says protest won't stop demolition."

Now, is not this the worst epitome of hypocrisy and double standard?

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