Turkey’s pro-government newspapers have run several offensive headlines about the diplomatic crisis between Ankara and Amsterdam following the banning of Turkish government ministers entering the country.
Opposition media has reported that the offensive headlines and rhetoric adopted in the articles reflected the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s ‘provocative’ discourse.
The Netherlands cancelled Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s flight into Rotterdam on Saturday. The foreign minister was expected to attend a meeting with Turkish expatriates on the upcoming constitutional referendum in Turkey. Separately, F. Betul Sayan Kaya, the Minister of Family and Social Policies, was stopped by armed Dutch police near Rotterdam’s Turkish Consulate in the Netherlands on Sunday.
After the incidents, President Erdogan and government ministers made statements that were severely critical and insulted Dutch officials. President Erdogan said they were “Nazi remnants and fascists,” while Mevlut Cavusoglu employing a sexist rhetoric told them “to be men”.
Popular dailies Star and Milliyet headlined the president’s threatening statement, ‘They will pay the price’ in today’s prints while pro-government papers such as Yeni Safak, Milat, Yeni Birlik and Akit printed photos of Dutch police with dogs attacking Turkish protesters with the heading “Dogs”. Aksam newspaper went one better and ran the headline, ‘Nazi dogs’, while Milli Gazete used ‘Europe’s dogs’.
Hurriyet, one of the leading newspapers in Turkey, ran the incident with the headline, ‘cruelty’ referring to the police practices against protesters. One protestor was taken to hospital after being bitten by a dog.
Opposition media compared events in the Netherlands with those in Turkey and called the government’s cries ‘hypocrisy’. Accusations against Dutch authorities of being ‘facist’ or ‘anti-democratic’ were also levelled at Turkish authorities for the anti-democratic policies in Turkey.
Many opposition papers printed the recent photo (above) of a young woman in Ankara University who is seen standing her ground as a police dog lunges at her. The photo was taken during a protest against the dismissals of hundreds of academics. The captions used referred to Erdogan’s recent statement on the Netherlands, “they attack our citizens with dogs which is unacceptable and barbarous”.
Demonstrations in Turkey are harshly suppressed by authorities. Recent International Women’s Day celebrations were initially banned with the ban lifted following widespread public outcry.
Prominent Dutch newspapers also ran reports on the escalation of tensions with headlines like, ‘Turks anger rising’, ‘Turkey wants an apology’ and ‘We are the boss here’.
Writing about the diplomatic crisis in the Washington Post, Ishaan Tharoor said the spat was “all about winning votes” for both sides. The Netherlands is going to a general election on 14 March while Turkey’s constitutional referendum will be held on 16 April.