Turkey’s largest ISP, Turk Telecom, has blocked all access to Google’s YouTube Internet video service, sending Turkish YouTube users into a state of shock, with YouTube itself very disappointed at the decision especially as they had removed the video in question and are in discussions with the Turkish government.
The offending video allegedly said that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the Turkish people were homosexuals, according to online reports, however in Turkey, insulting Ataturk is a criminal offense, with reports that the Turkish people had complained to local newspapers about the video in question.
A YouTube statement read that: “We are disappointed that YouTube has been blocked in Turkey. While technology can bring great opportunity and access to information globally, it can also present new and unique cultural challenges.”
Paul Doany, the Chairman of Turk Telecom told Turkish news agency Anatolia that: “We are not in the position of saying that what YouTube did was an insult, that it was right or wrong. A court decision was proposed to us, and we are doing what that court decision says.”
Turkish users trying to visit YouTube received a message both in Turkish and in English that: “Access to www.youtube.com site has been suspended in accordance with decision no: 2007/384 dated 06.03.2007 of Istanbul First Criminal Peace Court.”
The court has since relented somewhat, stating that access to YouTube could be reinstated if the offending video is removed, but as of yet this has not happened and there is no indication as yet when YouTube access will be restored.
Turkey has a law, Article 301 of the Turkish penal code, which states that insulting Turkishness is a crime. This law is being looked at by the Turkish government in an attempt to discover whether or not it can be modified, although the Turkish government has refused to abolish the law. This law is different to the law against insulting Ataturk, which is understood to be completely off limits to any changes whatsoever.
However Article 301 is under consideration for change, partly due to pressure from the European Union, which is concerned by Article 301, and which may affect Turkey’s bid to become part of the EU.