Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation against journalist Can Ataklı for the words he used in “Gün Başlıyor” TV show he hosted at Tele1 TV on March 23, 2020.
Ataklı had criticised that a teacher at Education Informatics Network TV (EBA), founded by the Ministry of National Education as a measure against the “coronavirus” pandemics for online education purposes, was wearing a hijab.
Investigation against Ataklı was launched by the official complaint of Kardeşlik Derneği. Ataklı, within the scope of the investigation, was accused of “publicly insulting a section of the public based on social class, race, religion, sect or regional difference”.
The indictment agains journalist Can Ataklı was completed by Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on April 27, 2020. Kardeşlik Derneği that made the complaint against Ataklı’s words on his Tele1 TV show was the “complainant” of the indictment.
The indictment included a summary of the official complaint. There Ataklı’s subject matter words regarding the lecture broadcasted in EBA TV, used by the Ministry of National Education as a measure against the “coronavirus” pandemics for online education purposes, were mentioned as follows:
“This just started for the first graders, as you see behind me the lecturer is wearing a hijab, she is teaching this class. What I am saying is I think this is wrong. Because are there any teachers wearing a hijab in the schools now? Yes, there are. But it is wrong to give a teacher with hijab as a role model for millions of students. I mean do not try to call it freedom or whatever. A teacher’s appearance is just not with a hijab…”
The indictment then included a summary of Ataklı’s statement given during the investigation process. Ataklı stated that these words were regularly repeated in his speeches, the complaints were made in a planned manner and his words did not constitute crime.
Ataklı’s words; “…it is wrong to give a teacher with a hijab as a role mode for millions of students”, “….a teacher’s appearance is just not with a hijab. I mean image-wise”, “This attitude of mind can not make it, you start this the first day, and image-wise starting with a teacher with a hijab is a disaster…” were considered “to constitute crime”.
The indictment claimed that these words “were in a nature to insult a section of public for the way they dress for their beliefs”.
In the indictment Ataklı was accused of “publicly insulting a section of the public based on social class, race, religion, sect or regional difference” according to the articles 216/2 and 218/1 of the Turkish Penal Code. He was requested to be sentenced to, from nine months to one year six months of imprisonment.
The trial of journalist Can Ataklı began with the first hearing held on October 7th, 2020 at İstanbul 22. Civil Court of First Instance. Defendant Can Ataklı and his lawyer did not attend.
Brotherhood Association (Kardeşlik Derneği) had filed the complaint against Ataklı due to his remarks at the program he anchored on Tele 1 TV, and figured as complainant in the indictment against Ataklı. The association’s lawyer Ekrem Turan also attended the hearing. Lawyer Turan indicated that they wanted to participate in the legal proceedings.
Lawyer Turan, also demanded that the court reject journalist Ataklı’s excuse for not attending the hearing. He claimed that Ataklı “committed a crime in front of millions, by trampling on the rights and freedoms of people and their religious beliefs” and requested that he be sentenced.
The hearing prosecutor, for his part, requested that the Brotherhood Association’s request to participate in the legal proceedings be rejected. He argued that the association was “unlikely to be directly injured by the alleged offense”. The court rejected the request by the complainant Brotherhood Association to participate in the proceedings, stating that the association “was not likely to be directly injured by the alleged offense”.
The hearing was postponed for Ataklı and his lawyer to draft their plea.
The trial has been adjourned until January 13th, 2021.
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