Turkish reporters get two years in prison for blasphemy


Two journalists in Turkey have been sentenced to two years in jail for “insulting religious values” after they reprinted a controversial cover from the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo above their columns. An Istanbul court on Thursday sentenced Ceyda Karan and Hikmet Cetinkaya to two years behind bars for illustrating their columns with a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad published by French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

“The two journalists were sentenced to two years each in jail,” said Bulent Utku, lawyer for Hikmet Cetinkaya and Ceyda Karan.  “We will appeal the ruling at the appeals court,” Utku told AFP news agency following a hearing at Istanbul’s criminal court. Writing on her Twitter account @ceydak, Karan lashed out at the Turkish government, saying: “Let our two-year sentence be a gift for our liberal fascists #JeSuisCharlie.”

Muslim Turkey’s constitution strictly separates state and religion, but its penal code makes it a crime to insult religion.

On January 14, 2015, Cumhuriyet published a four-page Charlie Hebdo pullout translated into Turkish marking the French satirical weekly’s first issue since a deadly attack on its Paris offices by gunmen earlier that month. The edition included a smaller version of the cartoon twice inside the newspaper to illustrate columns on the subject by Karan and Cetinkaya. Most other media in Turkey had refrained from publishing the cover.