ASIA/TURKEY – The COVID-19 pandemic has also strongly impacted the newspapers of the Christian communities
Istanbul (Agenzia Fides) – Among the side effects of the coronavirus pandemic, in Turkey as in other countries, there are the difficulties affecting the media sector and in particular newspapers, mainly distributed through newsstands and by subscription. In Turkey, the condition of suffering particularly affects newspapers linked to the Christian minority communities, with devastating effects. In recent days, Turkish media reported the alarm raised by the leaders of the Christian press. Mihail Vasiladis, editor-in-chief of Apoyevmatini – the historical newspaper linked to the Greek Orthodox community – explained that the newspaper is prepared thanks to the work of an increasingly restricted editorial staff, and in recent months, due to the curfew, distribution has been sospende, advertising revenues have drastically decreased “and the difficulties are enormous”, as the number of readers shrinks and their average age rises more and more. Yetvart Danzikyan, editor-in-chief of Agos newspaper published in Armenian and Turkish, also explained that the weekly printed version of the newspaper is printed on Thursday and before the pandemic it was spread mainly at the weekend, but at the present stage the block of activities and the curfew have precipitated sales. Similar considerations have been expressed by Evgil Türker, editor of the monthly Sabro, printed in Turkish and Syriac in Mardin and then printed and distributed in Istanbul. During the pandemic, only the generous donations of some readers allowed the publication to continue.
While the media related to Christian minority communities are in dire straits, the controversy triggered by the special edition of the magazine “Gerçek Hayat” entirely dedicated to FETÖ, an acronym that stands for Organization of Gülenista Terror (expression with which the Turkish pro-government organs indicate the Hizmet association of the Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen, expatriated to the USA in 1999 and indicated by the Turkish government as the great director of the attempted coup of 15 July 2016).
Gerçek Hayat magazine belongs to the same editorial group as the pro-government newspaper “Yeni Safak”, owned by the family of origin of the son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In recent days, Armenian Mp Garo Paylan of Diyarbakir submitted a motion to the Turkish parliament in which he denounces the Gerçek Hayat dossier as an operation to incite racial and religious hatred. “In the magazine” – underlines the Armenian parliamentarian – “it was claimed that Ramiz, the father of Fetullah Gülen, was Armenian, that his mother was Jewish and his actions show his genetic origin”. It follows that with its dossier – Paylan insists – the magazine fomented hatred towards the religious and ethnic minorities of Turkey, increasing the risk of new violent actions against them. Furthermore – the Armenian parliamentarian eloquently asks – the powerful who now accuse Patriarchs and Rabbi of being accomplices of the Islamic preacher who was expatriated to the USA since 1999, were they not all affiliated to the “Congregation of Gülen” at the time? And “is it not perhaps immoral to call Gülen “Armenian” now, while Gülen himself was called “Venerable Hocaaefendi” by your power when he walked alongside Erdogan?”. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 16/5/2020)