News & Politics

Turkish Dictator Visits U.S., Security Guards Attack, Harass Journalists

Protesters chant against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in front of Brookings Institution in Washington, Thursday, March 31, 2016, where President Erdogan was speaking. (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited the Brookings Institution yesterday where he gave a speech about a whole array of subjects, but with a special focus on the situation in the Middle East and Turkey’s war with the PKK specifically and on terrorism in general.

And boy, were Americans journalists in for a surprise.

You see, Erdoğan and his cronies declared war on Turkish journalists years ago. Many of them have lost their jobs after writing articles critical of the president, while others have even been imprisoned.

When Erdoğan went to the United States, American journalists assumed that he and his entourage would behave differently. After all, America is not a dictatorship, but a democracy where the freedom of the press is respected.

Sadly, these commentators underestimated Erdoğan’s penchant for mischief:

As Paul McLeary noted:

Turkish journalist Ilhan Tanir, who lives and works in Washington D.C., was also shocked:

Another Turkish journalist, a woman, went to Brookings to cover Erdogan’s speech. Let’s just say that Erdoğan’s security guards weren’t happy with that:

That’s a literal quote: they actually called her a “PKK whore” and physically assaulted her.

To American commentators, this behavior came as a shock. After all, when President Obama is angered by a specific outlet or reporter he, at worst, just ignores them. Not so with his Turkish counterpart: when Erdoğan feels slighted, he makes sure his cronies beat journalists into submission, if necessary literally.

Strange as it may sound, I’m actually happy that Erdoğan’s security guards behaved so aggressively. Now the Obama administration has absolutely no way of ignoring his totalitarian tendencies. After all, he’s even exporting them to the United States.

Of course that’s also bad news for journalists in Turkey. Imagine what Erdoğan is willing to do at home if he’s going this far in the U.S. It means there truly are no limits anymore; criticize him and you literally have to fear for your job and even for your safety.