Publisher closes Turkish magazine after backlash on cartoon lampooning Moses

The cartoon of Moses, which led to the closure of the satirical magazine Girgir.

The publisher of Turkish satirical magazine GirGir has decided to close the magazine after the publication of a cartoon lampooning Moses received backlash from the public including prominent ruling government politicians.

The cartoon depicting Moses irritating his followers wandering in the desert by talking too much and bragging about parting the Red Sea sparked outrage on Twitter. However the decision to close the magazine came only after Ibrahim Kalin, the spokesperson for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted, “The name for this is not humor and freedom of the speech, but indecency and hate crime. I strongly condemn this disrespect to sanctity.”

The cartoon was also condemned by the Turkish Jewish Society and other religious groups.

The magazine apologised for the cartoon and said it had been a mistake to publish it. A statement by the publisher’s lawyer said the company would file a complaint against magazine staff responsible for taking the cartoon to print on grounds that it had been published with “malicious intent” to harm the company.

An investigation has been launched against the anti-government magazine by the Kucukcekmece Prosecutor’s Office in Istanbul for alleged “abuse of the religious values adopted by a part of the people.”

Following news of the closure, supporters of the magazine launched a hashtag calling for the banning of another satirical magazine Misvak, which they accused of supporting jihadist groups and insulting Turkey’s founding father Kemal Ataturk.

The latest incident has been viewed by many as the most recent case of censorship and enforced self-censorship in Turkey. The Committee to Protect Journalists placed the incident in its weekly ‘Turkey crackdown chronicle’.