My interview with Sevgi Akarcesme, Columnist at Zaman Daily News and Correspondent Today’s Zaman, is without doubt the highlight of my trip. We met with her on Wednesday, March 4th. She writes for the biggest independent newspaper Zaman Daily. Its English version is Today’s Zaman. Before I met her, I read her column, commenting the presidential election that happened last year. She spoke bravely on calling the people to stop Erdogan from becoming the president of Turkey and creating a totalitarian regime. When I met her in person, her words and wisdom did not let me down. She first elaborated how the fact that Turkey is a secular state yet the majority Turkish population practice Islam helped Erdogan appeal to the Turkish citizens’ needs. She also gave more background of Erdogan’s ruling, from his first term to current days.
The most important part of this interview is when she explained the development and severity of the media censorship in Turkey. According to Akarcesme, on December 17th, 2014, there was a major police investigation on the biggest corruption in Turkish History. And president Erdogan is involved. Erdogan’s fear for being convicted for corruption made him tighten the freedom of press. He then started serious persecution of independent journalists and editors. The editor of Today’s Zaman was also detained for a while. Apart from arresting the journalists, the government also controls the media by tighten the newspaper advertisement of public corporation. Today’s Zaman does not receive any advertisement revenue from the public owned companies.
I admire her courage for speaking out about the current serious situation of this country. I also respect Today’s Zaman’s determination for being an independent media. Any society needs this passion and courage for truth. Her words also provided me a direction on how to pursue this research topic.