Tajani's ban on the distribution of Daily Sabah in the European Parliament is another symptom showing that xenophobia and intolerance has surrounded the continent
In an unprecedented crackdown on free speech, President Antonio Tajani, who has been presiding over the European Parliament since January 2017, imposed a ban on the distribution of Daily Sabah at the European Parliament. Yes, you read it right. Daily Sabah has just been banned from the European Parliament upon the request of Dutch parliamentarian Jeroen Lenaers in an obvious violation of democracy, freedom of expression and press freedom.
According to Mr. Lenaers, Daily Sabah has been committing hate crimes and targeting members of Fetullah Gülen's terrorist cult – which orchestrated the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey. It would appear that he was simply unhappy with our coverage. To be clear, Daily Sabah's readers know that the Dutch politician's accusations are laughable and unfair. They understand that Mr. Lenaers uses the charge of hate speech as a smokescreen to conceal his true concerns.
The European Parliament's decision to undemocratically ban the distribution of a national newspaper reflects the broader climate of fear and rising authoritarianism in Europe. Theatrics aside, Mr. Tajani's ban is a testament to the xenophobia and intolerance on the continent. As such, there is no difference between the Dutch government's denial of landing rights to Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu or the detention of Family and Social Policy Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya and this arbitrary ban on Daily Sabah. What happened on Thursday marked another victory for Europe's intolerant hatemongers, xenophobes and refugee haters against democracy and universal rights.
Mr. Lenaers's request for a ban on Daily Sabah is proof that people like him are unsettled by our newspaper's willingness to hold up a mirror and show up the European Union for what it really is. Our only "mistake" has been to claim that Europe is moving away from democracy and to speak up against the mistreatment of refugees by European governments. We have been warning Europe that the rise of right-wing extremists would undermine the European Union's core values. And we will continue to do our job.Here are some questions for Mr. Tajani, who made a scandalous decision to deny representatives of European citizens access to a range of ideas: How would you like Daily Sabah to cover the situation in Europe? Shall we look the other way as the continent continues to nosedive? Would you be happier if we, like yourself, learned to play dumb? Should we sweep the dirt under the rug? Would you like us to act like there were no right-wing extremists or xenophobes in your backyard? Or should we pretend that everything is alright – just because the truth makes you uncomfortable?
To those who believe that they can stop the spread of ideas by banning the distribution of newspapers in the age of digital journalism, here's a quick reminder: Editor-in-Chief Serdar Karagöz's Daily Sabah won't change. We will not become what you want us to become. Whether you like it or not, you will keep reading about inconvenient facts. We will keep speaking truth to power.