Publisher shuts Turkey weekly over cartoon blasphemy

Members of Turkish police special forces stand guard at the police headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey on Friday. (Reuters)
Updated 17 February 2017
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Publisher shuts Turkey weekly over cartoon blasphemy

ISTANBUL: The publisher of one of Turkey’s most prominent cartoon magazines on Friday shut down the weekly and fired all its staff after it published a cartoon of Prophet Moses deemed to be offensive.
“The decision has been taken for the magazine to be closed and all the staff laid off because of the distasteful cartoon,” the publishers said in a statement on the magazine’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.
“The cartoon has disturbed society and disturbed us as a publishing company,” it said.
Girgir has since 2015 been published by the group of the Sozcu newspaper, a secular nationalist daily which is staunchly opposed to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The publishers blamed the cartoon on a deliberate attempt to “put the company in a difficult situation” and said it would inform prosecutors of which employees were behind it.
A statement by the magazine, before the closure was announced, apologized for the cartoon, saying “it was not noticed before printing because of tiredness and insomnia.”
Two Turkish journalists from the Cumhuriyet daily were last year ordered to serve two years in jail for illustrating their columns with a blasphemous cartoon originally published by French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.
Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin tweeted after the publication of the Girgir cartoon that “this has nothing to do with freedom of speech or humor. This is immoral and a hate crime.”
The cartoon was also angrily condemned by the editor in chief of Istanbul’s Jewish weekly Shalom Ivo Molinas who tweeted: “What a disgrace! What disrespect!”


Iraq plans manual election recount only for suspect ballots

Updated 24 min 42 sec ago
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Iraq plans manual election recount only for suspect ballots

  • The parliamentary election has been marred by historically low turnout and fraud allegations

BAGHDAD: Iraq will conduct a manual recount of votes from a May election only for ballots mentioned in official reports on fraud or in formal complaints, a move likely to speed up the ratification of final results and the formation of a new government.
The parliamentary election has been marred by historically low turnout and fraud allegations.
The outgoing parliament this month passed a law mandating a nationwide manual recount of votes, but the panel of judges now in charge of the recount said it would only be conducted for problematic ballots.
Interpreting a ruling from the Supreme Federal Court, a panel of judges who are now in charge of the elections commission said on Sunday they would only manually recount problematic ballots “out of respect for the will of voters and their rights ... and to preserve their vote which came without any violation.”
The law passed by parliament had also suspended the Independent High Election Commission’s nine-member board of commissioners and replaced them with judges.
Ballot boxes from areas where there were fraud allegations will be moved to the capital Baghdad, where the recount will be held in the presence of United Nations representatives at a time and place to be determined later, the panel said in a statement.
The historically slow and complex process of forming an Iraqi government after an election has been further complicated this time round because of the fraud allegations and subsequent recount. Now that only specific ballots will be recounted, a new government could be formed faster.
The full recount was voted for by an outgoing parliament in which a majority of lawmakers, including the speaker, failed to retain their seats in the May poll. The vote came after a government report said there were serious electoral violations, but the report only recommended a partial recount.
Parliament met on Sunday to discuss another law that would allow it to remain in session until final results are ratified, even though its term constitutionally ends next week on June 30.
Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, who’s electoral list came third in the poll, and the winner, cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr, entered into a political alliance on Saturday night, less than two weeks after Sadr announced a similar alliance with second-placed Iran ally Hadi Al-Amiri’s bloc, thus bringing the top three blocs together.
Sadr’s bloc has been boycotting parliament’s sessions. He and Amiri were against a full recount. Both Sadr and Abadi oppose the idea of the current parliament extending its mandate.