As in many other places around the world, Istanbul today had a solidarity rally to commemorate the victims of Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris that left 12 people dead. There have been controversial statements in Turkey with regards to the attack; while lots of people heavily condemned the attacks, many others appeared to confirm their positive perception of the violent raid. Some pro-government media’s take on the first breaking of the news might have had some effect, or perhaps the dark-propaganda against the Charlie Hebdo’s publishing of the Mohammad cartoons, on this kind of response. A total of three people have attempted to attack the solidarity rally in Istanbul, which started simultaneously with the march in Paris.
When a group of 50 gathered in front of the Galatasaray Square on Istiklal, and opened a banner saying “ We are all Charlie”, two people started shouting at the group saying “you only waste words while Muslim blood is being spilled everyday”. As the police took the person away, he raised his index finger and thumb, a symbol commonly used by supporters of Islamist groups. As the group approached to the French Institute at the entrance of Istiklal, next to Taksim Square, a third person started shouting “are you doing all these just because 12 people died?” The third person was also taken away by the police very quickly.
While the solidarity rally was taking place and three people reacted negatively to it, the Islamist Aczmendi Cult has organized a funeral ceremony and prayer from a distance for the Kouachi Brothers who carried out the attack against Charlie Hebdo.
The solidarity rally kept growing through Istiklal and group read out a manifestation in solidarity with all the people condemning the violent attack, and in support of freedom of speech. As the weekend also witnessed many side events observing the Working Journalists Day of January 10, the emphasis on free press has been named several times during the rally. The group was welcomed to the French Institute by some French tourists and French residents of Istanbul. As the photographs of the victims have been held high and candles lit, the statement was read out loud.
“We have gathered here to condemn the attack on Charlie Hebdo on January 7th. We condemn this crime and share their grief without buts, howevers, althoughs, or yets… This attack is an attempt to eliminate satire, comedy, criticism. This attack consists of bullets fired at free speech. We share the same views as our colleagues in France, with whom we stay in solidarity. We will not keep shut up, we will not give in, we will not give up. This shall be our promise to the world, to Turkey and to Charlie Hebdo. The history of satire and journalism in this part of the world consists of intolerance against thoughts and ideas, pressure, censorship, suppression, intimidation and even extermination. We have been targeted by state, deep state, dark forces and been subjected to attacks, since Ahmet Samim, Abdi İpekçi, Uğur Mumcu, Metin Göktepe, Hafız Akdemir and till Hrant Dink [names of the slain journalists in Turkey in recent past]. This is a country where the satirical journal Marko Pasha was closed down, Tan Daily was ransacked, Ozgur Ulke Daily was bombed, and in the city of Sivas the journalists, caricaturists, authors were burned to death in their hotel. For this reason, perhaps we are the ones who understand it best that the attack against Charlie Hebdo is a crime against humanity. Once again we remember the perpetrators of the incident that spilled blood on Charlie Hebdo; the pen is mightier than the sword and much stronger than any weapon. We salute Charlie Hebdo, the French people, and all those in favour of peace, solidarity and democracy all around the world.”