Journalists are the most important elements of a democratic society. They alone are the source of the correct and objective information that the public needs. They are the people working for a cause, for democracy, righteousness, justice, human rights and preservation of human dignity. Fighting for a just cause and, if necessary, becoming a part of an ideology is only normal for us press people.
However, when journalists start getting involved in a campaign of deceit, becoming a prosecutor and judge, trying to see off their adversaries through crooked tactics and becoming part of a dirty war, then their title as a "journalist" becomes questionable.
That is what is happening in Turkey today.
Gülen Movement-affiliated journalists, who have been taken into custody, are not facing a prosecutor because of what they wrote about the government over the past year but because there is reportedly strong evidence that they were involved in a plot to "finish off" their rivals in the same religious movement.
Reportedly the Gülen Movement, which is supposed to be a part of the Nur religious order, has been uneasy with the accusations levelled against it by rival Nur groups, especially the Tahşiye group. Thus the movement allegedly ordered its "fighters" to gang up and finish off the Tahşiye group, and that is exactly what happened. Executives of the Turkish daily Zaman and Samanyolu TV were reportedly ordered in 2009 to tarnish the image of the Tahşiye order and its leader Mehmet Doğan. The newspaper led by Ekrem Dumanlı and the TV group led by Hidayet Karaca successfully accomplished their mission so much so that, with the help of the pro-Gülen Movement prosecutors and judges, Mehmet Doğan was thrown into jail where he remained for 17 months. Doğan was later released.
The Gülen Movement has come under fire from other Nur groups, like Yeni Asya led by Mehmet Kutlular for more than three decades. They have accused the Gülen Movement of violating the teachings of Bediüzzaman Said Nursi, who started the Nur Order, a massive Sunni group that preaches modesty and forbids Nur followers from using the order to advance their political status or make financial gains. That is exactly what the Gülen Movement has been accused of doing.
On Sunday, the prosecutor ordered the detention of all those suspected of being involved in the case, which involved using daily Zaman and Samanyolu TV as weapons to frame Doğan.
So the issue is not really "journalists opposed to the government being thrown into jail" but that people who allowed others to exploit them through their press identity and allowed themselves to be used as weapons to frame innocent people are now being asked to pay for what they have done.
The government has to manage this case properly and explain to the world what the facts are or, once again, it will be accused of suppressing the media.
It is still fresh in our minds how prosecutors and judges affiliated to the Gülen Movement made a mockery of the judicial system by throwing people in jail and keeping them there without trial. Now the prosecutors and judges seem to be taking great care to deal with this case with the proper sensitivity and are not rushing to throw people into jail. That is a good sign for the government.
However, the AK Party also has a serious question to answer. Why was everyone in the ruling party so silent when Mehmet Doğan, a devout Muslim like them, was thrown into jail and suffered for 17 months way back in 2009? They can say the hard facts in the case have just come to the attention of the prosecutor, and thus the operation was scheduled for now or that the case has nothing to do with them, yet they have to explain why they let a man of religion suffer like this in 2009.