So interesting to see the mechanisms in both Turkish and Dutch press after in the beginning of this month a young Turk, ishan Gürz, died in a police station in the Netherlands. The official investigation into his death is not concluded yet and expected next week, but I don’t want to get into the cause of death. I’m a Turkey correspondent, not a Turks in the Netherlands correspondent. But like I said, the mechanisms are interesting – or should I say, predictable?
Newspaper Today’s Zaman, religious and pro-government, takes every opportunity it gets to write about rising racism in Europe. That’s in itself okay, I mean, it is a problem and the topic needs to be written about. The thing is, they instantly loose every sense of balanced reporting as soon as a Muslim in Europe dies under suspicious circumstances. They immediately connect it to racism, whether that makes any sense or not. Other Turkish papers report about Ishan Gürz with headline’s like: ‘Turk killed by Dutch police’, so with quotation marks and not stated as facts, but what headline does English daily Today’s Zaman come up with? Turkish man killed under severe torture in Dutch police station. As if that is a fact. No, it’s not a coincidental mistake, it’s a policy. A dangerous policy. They did the same when Arzu Erbas was killed in Amsterdam, a case I wrote about here.
Then the Dutch papers reacted. ‘Turks outraged after Turks died in Dutch police station’. All Turks? They read the piece in Today’s Zaman, that was easy because it’s in English, and conclude that ‘Turks’ are ‘outraged’. The truth is, a huge majority of the Turks didn’t even hear about the case, let alone that they are ‘outraged’. Only Toay’s Zaman reported in this utterly shameful non-journalistic way. The rest of the Turkish media were hardly ‘outraged’, they reported about it in a rather sensible way actually. But it suits the Dutch image of rising polarization on foreigners and people with foreign roots to label Turks as getting easily ‘outraged’, so they blow up bad reporting in one paper to ‘Turks being outraged’.
Will Today’s Zaman correct their bad reporting if next week the police report says there was no racism involved, but for example drug abuse, or heart problems? Let’s make a prediction based on the Arzu Erbas case. I checked Today’s Zaman’s later reporting about it. And got shocked. Because when the police investigation progressed, it turned out that an extramarital affair was behind the killing. No racism, but love. Did Today’s Zaman mention that when the killer was sentenced to 22 years in prison? No, they didn’t. Even worse, they kept on writing about rising islamophobia, as you can read in this article.
And Dutch media? The ones mentioning that ‘Turkish media’ were ‘outraged’ (and there were no quality papers doing that, mainly online copy paste-sites), all copied the same article. I wondered if I should have proposed an article to the news agency with the headline ‘Turks not outraged’, but what do you think, would it have hit the 8 ‘o clock news?