Government backlash against social media is becoming more common worldwide. In their efforts to control the new platforms, despotic leaders—in the Arab states to Turkey’s south especially—have tried throwing users behind bars, legislating what can be said online, and even arguing that social media should be banned on religious grounds.
As antigovernment protests in Turkey go into their second week, Freedom House is alarmed that the government has continued to escalate the crisis through inflammatory rhetoric and use of riot police against protesters, and urges the government of Turkey to deescalate a dangerous situation by respecting freedom of assembly, refraining from the use of force, and engaging with protesters in Istanbul, Ankara, and other cities across the country.
A majority of Americans see democracy in the U.S. as weak and getting weaker, according to a national survey released by The Democracy Project, a joint initiative of Freedom House, the George W. Bush Institute, and the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.
The victory of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the June 2018 elections has cemented the long-term trend of democratic decline and authoritarian consolidation in Turkey. This consolidation has coincided with, and contributed to, a sharp divergence from Turkey’s traditional strategic alignment with the United States. This brief provides an overview of recent developments and looks at how U.S. foreign policy should respond to the “New Turkey.”
Turkey’s government is improperly using its leverage over media to limit public debate about government actions and punish journalists and media owners who dispute government claims, deepening the country’s political and social polarization.
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