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Muzzling social media

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SHOCKING footage this week from Washington, DC showed the visiting Turkish leader’s bodyguards running amok and assaulting anti-Erdogan protesters, apparently on instructions the president gave to one of his aides. This raises an important question: is every elected leader a democrat?

Going by the Washington incident, where the beefy men belonging to the Turkish president’s security detail would have caused much greater bodily harm to the handful of protesters had it not been for the intervention of local police, the answer would have to be an emphatic no.

There can be no denying that Erdogan enjoys just over 50 per cent of support in a country that seems equally divided into those who love him and those who loathe him. His party has won four consecutive elections — and recently the president got a ‘yes’ vote, despite a thin majority, in a referendum seeking to enhance his powers.

If the government’s warning is meant for political opponents, it is unacceptable and condemnable.

The fact that he has built the country’s economy into a major powerhouse from one that was moribund when he first came into power about a decade and a half back has enabled him to strengthen his stranglehold over the country; serious corruption allegations have not dented his popularity.

He also cut Turkey’s coup-prone military to size, using the good offices of his erstwhile ally Fetullah Gulen, currently in exile in the US, and whose supporters tipped off the civilian government about the potential coup-makers’ plan, helping it to pre-empt the coup and to prosecute........

© Dawn