Following Tuesday's hostage crisis, a number of newspapers and TV stations volunteered to spread terrorist propaganda by publishing and broadcasting images of the prosecutor held at gun-point
Last week, two terrorist attacks shook the nation: On Tuesday, two gunmen entered Istanbul's largest courthouse to take Mehmet Selim Kiraz, the prosecutor in the high-profile case into the death of teenager Berkin Elvan during the 2013 Gezi Park protests, hostage. Despite efforts to negotiate the prosecutor's release, he was executed. The following day, a female suicide bomber, armed with an automatic rifle, was shot dead in front of the Istanbul police headquarters. The assailants were affiliated with the DHKP-C, a left-wing terrorist organization that perpetrated the 2013 suicide attack against the U.S. Embassy in Ankara. Last week's developments revealed that certain parts of the mainstream opposition are willing to justify terrorism for the sake of ideology and political gain.
Just minutes after news of the hostage crisis hit the wires, Republican People's Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu claimed that the government was involved in the attack. Levent Tüzel, a deputy chairman for the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), argued that the subsequent SWAT raid was "a violation of the right to life of two young people seeking justice." Meanwhile, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Devlet Bahçeli said, "those who promoted polarization ... must pay the price of innocent lives." The media did hardly better: CNN Türk anchor Mirgün Cabas became the target of widespread criticism for tweeting that the government should learn "not to shoot children and boo their mothers" to avoid terrorist attacks. A number of newspapers proceeded to print images of DHKP-C militants holding a gun against the late prosecutor's head the following day. Others were more direct in their praise for young people who supposedly died for a good cause.
Obviously, politicians and journalists are entitled to their opinions - even the most controversial opinions. Some people believe that the ends justify the means - luckily enough, society does not reward such behavior with political success. With regard to certain issues, such as the murder of an innocent man, there are no grey areas. When it comes to terrorist incidents, we cannot play favorites. The main problem is that self-proclaimed mainstream media outlets and political parties are willing to lease their platform out to extremists.
We cannot afford to allow terrorist organizations, regardless of their ideological principles and stated goals, spread violence to safe parts of the world. Now more than ever, the international community must join together in unequivocally fighting terrorism through intelligence-sharing, terrorist finance tracking programs and other instruments. The thinly-veiled secret that a number of DHKP-C leaders continue to plan and manage the organization's activities from Greece raises serious questions about the sincerity of Western governments in fighting terrorism.
Most importantly, however, politicians and journalists must pledge to distinguish between disapproval of government policies and violent attacks. Following Tuesday's hostage crisis, a number of newspapers and TV stations volunteered to spread terrorist propaganda by publishing and broadcasting images of the prosecutor being held at gun-point while failing to show due respect to the family and loved ones of the victim. Men like Prosecutor Kiraz simply deserve better than being remembered as hostages.