Just as Turkey prepares to commemorate those who died in the July 15 coup attempt, carried out by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) in 2016, the Qatar-based media giant Al-Jazeera English recently hosted two FETÖ members presenting themselves to be the victims. With only a few days left to the anniversary of the July 15 coup attempt that caused the killing of hundreds and keeps its place within societal memory as a traumatic event, some international media outlets started to promote the terrorists of FETÖ, presenting them as if they are victims.
Mahir Zeynalov, a former editor at FETÖ's media outlet, Today's Zaman, and Çağdaş Kaplan, a well-known FETÖ terrorist who fled the country after the coup attempt, appeared in an Al-Jazeera English program on journalism in Turkey.
They were joined by Can Dündar, the former editor-in-chief of the Turkish language daily, Cumhuriyet. Dündar, who has a red notice against his name, is also on the run on charges of spying and revealing state secrets.
Qatar's Al-Jazeera English channel hosted the FETÖ members, including ones being sought with red issues, and broadcast their lies and wrong accusations toward Turkey. The channel could not get away with this attack on Turkey and its values as the audience bashed the move.
As part of a show on journalism in Turkey, Al-Jazeera English decided to interview FETÖ fugitives, namely Mahir Zeydanov, a former editor of the group's media outlet, Today's Zaman, and Çağdaş Kaplan, another well-known FETÖ member, who escaped the country following the coup attempt. Can Dündar, who has been charged with the accusations of being a spy and is wanted under a red issue, was also interviewed.
Although the topic of discussion was supposedly journalism in Turkey, the move seen by the audience as an attmpt to defame Turkey as a country and a state.
Al-Jazeera English, on the other hand, presented these FETÖ members as though they were journalists in exile. The show allowed the members to share their skewed views on Turkey and how they fled the country. The real victims of the coup attempt, however, were completely overlooked throughout the show.
The appearance of Dündar, who has been charged with attempting to incite and manipulate the public, supporting members of terrorist groups against law enforcement trying to defuse the situation and acting as a provocateur during the Gezi protests? was the tipping point. People took to social media to voice their criticism of the show and made clear that these people were indeed terrorists, not journalists.
FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gülen orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 251 people dead and nearly 2,200 injured.
According to former Al-Jazeera Arabic journalist and the foreign news editor of the Turkish language news channel, A Haber, Felemez Doğan, the reason behind Al-Jazeera English hosting programs that target Turkey can be traced back to the channel's foundation.
Stating that the channel was founded approximately at the same time that BBC World was closed in 1996 in Qatar, Doğan said that most of the BBC World workers started to work at Al-Jazeera English at that time and brought their own understanding of journalism to this channel as well.
"However, this understanding of journalism was deeply affected by their respective countries' perspective over these kinds of issues, including Turkey," he said, adding that they have a Western perspective that is disguised under the name of 'objective journalism.'"
"Thus," Doğan said, "there is a big difference between the understanding of journalism at Al-Jazeera English and Al-Jazeera Arabic." He underlined that Al-Jazeera Arabic is very aware of Turkey, its challenges, domestic issues, and the country's significance in regional and international politics while Al-Jazeera English has a prejudice against the country and does not hesitate to express this bias in their treatment of news from Turkey.
"The ones who produce and approve such news are polarized and subjective," said Nurhayat Kızılkan, a sociologist. "We are mentioning a group that tries to infiltrate everywhere. It is illegal. So, I don't believe that anyone who claims to be objective would consider promoting this group as normal," she emphasized, adding that because of such subjective news, people lose their trust in journalism.
Regarding Dündar himself, Kızılkaya said that he himself is the one who damaged the reputation of journalism by enabling his newspaper Cumhuriyet daily to be invaded by FETÖ terrorists. "Now, the criticism that initially targeted the Turkish government has turned into the bashing of Turkey as a whole. These people claim to be journalists and the international media hosts them as if they are legitimate," she added.