The Turkish Ministry of Commerce has fined the Evrensel newspaper for a fleeting image in a video advertisement.
Evrensel, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, has been fined 20,953 Turkish lira (2,832 USD) for an advertisement from the Newroz celebration in 2015, in which a girl is seen holding a yellow, red and green shawl.
The Ministry of Commerce’s General Directorate of Consumer Protection and Market Surveillance claimed that Article 61 of Law No. 6502 was violated by the photograph, which is seen for two seconds in the 45-second video.
“In your commercial with the title ‘The voice of millions who are tested with hunger and who want to live humanely!’ there is an image of a girl holding a piece of cloth symbolising a terrorist organisation”, said the Ministry of Commerce in its statement. “This image contains elements that encourage and support illegal behaviour”, it added.
Evrensel’s Editor-in-Chief Fatih Polat wrote a piece in Evrensel with the title “Evrensel will not bow to you!” disputing the accusation. “There is no symbol of any organisation in the shawl, which consists of yellow, red, and green colours”, wrote Polat. “Why haven’t you been able to show a single piece of evidence so far?”
Polat added that the symbol of Kurdish culture has to be respected. “These colours are used all over the world for Newroz celebrations. Is there a ban on those shawls used in meetings? If there is a law that those shawls represent an organisation — we don’t know that, please enlighten us — which law is it? We will file a lawsuit about it”.
The International Press Institute (IPI) also criticised the decision of the Ministry from its official Twitter account: “These penalties indicate that the media is being targeted in Turkey, and the penalty must be retracted immediately!”