Ataturk Wept

Don’t insult the prophet of Islam on Facebook, at least not in Turkey, if reports are correct:

Following an order by a Turkish court, the popular social network has blocked pages considered insulting to the Prophet Muhammad, The New York Times reported Monday, citing a company employee with direct knowledge of the matter.

The court on Sunday threatened to ban access to the entire site if Facebook did not comply with the order. The court order followed a request by a prosecutor.

Facebook had faced a tricky situation that has confronted other companies such as Twitter and Google.

It’s hard to seriously fault Facebook on this one — when you play in a foreign country, you have to play by their rules. Although just once I’d love to see a social networking site tell the local Imam/Mullah/Commissar to stick their orders where the sun don’t shine, then close up shop and say au revoir with a middle-finger salute. That said, any company’s first duty is to its shareholders.

So really what we have here is yet another small sign that Kemal Ataturk’s dream of a modern and secular Turkey is turning into yet another premodern Islamist nightmare.

In the meantime, the best we can hope for our relations with Ankara is, “It’s complicated.”