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German comedian Jan Boehmermann could be prosecuted for insulting Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the Turkish president filed a complaint.

Jan Boehmermann had recited a satirical poem on television which made sexual references to Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Under German law, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government had to approve a criminal inquiry.

Angela Merkel stressed that the courts would have the final word, and it was now up to prosecutors to decide whether to press charges.

The chancellor added that her government would move to repeal the controversial and little-used Article 103 of the penal code, which concerns insults against foreign heads of state, by 2018.

Photo AFP

Photo AFP

Jan Boehmermann is a satirist and TV presenter well-known for pushing the boundaries of German humor. He was given police protection earlier this week.

Some experts say the comedian has a strong defense against potential charges, because his poem could be seen as part of a wider piece of satire about free speech, rather than a deliberate insult.

An earlier remark by Angela Merkel that the poem was “deliberately offensive” had led to accusations in Germany that she was not standing up for free speech.

The poem was broadcast on ZDF TV two weeks ago. The public TV channel has decided not to broadcast Boehmermann’s weekly satire program this week because of the furor surrounding him.

Before announcing that Jan Boehmermann could be prosecuted, Angela Merkel stressed her government expected Turkey to comply with EU democratic norms in the areas of free speech and judicial independence.

“In a state under the rule of law, it is not a matter for the government but rather for state prosecutors and courts to weigh personal rights issues and other concerns affecting press and artistic freedom,” the chancellor said.

“The presumption of innocence applies,” Angela Merkel added, explaining that she was not making any prejudgement about Jan Boehmermann.

In her statement in Berlin, Angela Merkel said that the approval of the federal government was a legal precondition for the prosecution of this specific offence.

“The foreign office, the justice ministry, the interior ministry and the chancellery took part in this review,” she said.

“There were diverging opinions between the coalition partners… The result is that in the present case the federal government will grant its approval.”

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has drawn much criticism in Turkey and internationally for attacking opponents, including harassment of journalists. Many accuse him of authoritarian methods, stifling legitimate dissent and promoting an Islamist agenda.

Some Germans worry that Angela Merkel is compromising on freedom of expression in order to ensure Turkey’s continued co-operation to stem the influx of refugees into the EU.

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Prominent Turkish journalists Can Dundar and Erdem Gul, from the newspaper Cumhuriyet, are due to go on trial charged with revealing state secrets.

They were arrested in November 2015 over a report alleging that the Turkish government had tried to ship arms to Islamists in Syria.

Can Dundar and Erdem Gul deny the charges but face possible life sentences if found guilty.

Supporters of the two journalists say the case is an important test of press freedom in Turkey.

The Turkish government has come under increasing international criticism over its treatment of journalists.

Earlier this month, Turkish police raided the offices of the country’s biggest newspaper, Zaman, hours after a court ruling placed it under state control.

Photo AP

Photo AP

Can Dundar, Cumhuriyet‘s editor-in-chief, and Erdem Gul, Ankara bureau chief, were arrested in November 2015.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan personally filed a criminal complaint against the Cumhuriyet journalists.

They were held on pre-trial detention but were released in February after the Constitutional Court ruled their rights to liberty and free expression had been violated.

Can Dundar said the government was trying to intimidate Turkey’s journalists.

“There’s an effort to arrest an entire profession and the public – what foreigners call a <<chilling effect>>,” he said.

“What’s trying to be created is a mechanism of self-censorship and an increasing empire of fear.”

Campaigners say the case is politically motivated and part of a growing crackdown on media critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

On March 24, dozens of prominent writers published an open letter to PM Ahmet Davutoglu, urging the government to drop the charges against the Cumhuriyet journalists.

“We believe that Can Dundar and Erdem Gul are facing life in prison simply for carrying out their legitimate work as journalists,” they said.

The letter also voiced concern over the “increasing climate of fear and censorship and the stifling of critical voices in Turkey”.

Zaman newspaper is closely linked to the Hizmet movement of influential US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

The government says Hizmet is a “terrorist” group aiming to overthrow Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Fethullah Gulen was once an ally of Recep Tayyip Erdogan but is now seen by the Turkish President as a threat to his authority.

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Turkish authorities have begun security operations against the PKK members in south-eastern Turkey and in Iraq.

The moves come as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed a crackdown on terror after March 13 attack in Ankara that killed at least 36 people.

A suspected bomber, who also died in the blast, was a female member of the PKK, security sources said.

Four people were held over the bombings in the south-eastern city of Sanliurfa, according to Turkish media.

Officials were quoted as saying the car used in the bombing was traced to a showroom there.Ankara bomb attack March 2016

A curfew was declared in three towns in south-east Turkey, while warplanes struck PKK camps in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Eleven warplanes carried out air strikes on 18 targets including ammunition dumps and shelters in the Qandil and Gara sectors, the army said. The PKK (the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party) confirmed the attacks.

Meanwhile curfews have been imposed in two mainly Kurdish towns in south-eastern Turkey, Yuksekova and Nusaybin, as security operations are carried out against Kurdish militants, Anadolu news agency reports.

Another curfew is due to start in the city of Sirnak at 23:00 local time.

No group has admitted carrying out the Ankara attack, but government sources have cast suspicion on the PKK.

Interior Minister Efkan Ala said an investigation would conclude on March 14 and those responsible would be named.

Unnamed officials said the female bomber was a member of the PKK from the eastern town of Kars who joined the group in 2013.

Kurdish rebels have carried out a series of attacks on Turkish soil in recent months, and security forces have raided Kurdish areas, after a ceasefire ended last year. ISIS has also targeted Ankara recently.

Turkey is part of the US-led coalition against IS and allows coalition planes to use its air base at Incirlik for raids on Iraq and Syria.

The country has also been carrying out a campaign of bombardment against Syrian Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which it regards as a extension of the PKK.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement that terror groups were targeting civilians because they were losing the battle against Turkish security forces.

Calling for national unity, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would use its right to self-defense to prevent future attacks.

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Turkey’s First Lady Emine Erdogan has described the harem of the Ottoman era as an “educational establishment that prepared women for life,” reports say.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s wife was speaking at an official event on Ottoman sultans in Ankara, say Turkish TV stations.

Emine Erdogan’s comments came a day after the president said a woman was “above all a mother” in a speech to mark International Women’s Day.

Family members, servants and concubines all lived in the imperial harem.

The sultans who ruled the Ottoman Empire had a harem at Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace, which has been a museum since 1924.Emine Erdogan harem speech

The sultan spent his domestic life in the harem, where his wives lived, as well as female family members and concubines, who numbered into the hundreds. Male staff were eunuchs.

Emine Erdogan said the harem was a school for members of the Ottoman dynasty.

Traces left by harem women in the empire’s six centuries of history could be “an inspiration”, the first lady said, according to Turkish media.

Concubines kept in the harem did receive some training and were well fed. However, they were not free to leave the palace if they wanted to.

Some Turks were quick to criticize Emine Erdogan’s comments on social media.

“Receiving education in harem doesn’t make it a school. This is nonsense,” tweeted @GaziCaglar, saying there would have been about 400 concubines in the sultan’s harem.

“If the Ottoman harem was a scholarly institution then why were the men who worked there castrated?” asked @anlam75.

“Those who mention harem do not send their daughters to anything less than American universities,” tweeted @kizmonot, a reference to the fact that both the Erdogans’ daughters studied at Indiana University.

However, some – including pro-government journalist Ceren Kenar – pointed out that Emine Erdogan is correct to say that women were educated in the harem.

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Leaders from Turkey and EU have gathered in Brussels for an emergency summit on tackling Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War Two.

The EU aims to stem the flow of refugees and plans to declare the route north through the Balkans closed.

It will press Turkey to take back economic migrants and has pledged to give Ankara €3 billion ($3.3 billion).

In 2015, more than a million people entered the EU illegally by boat, mainly going from Turkey to Greece.

Photo AP

Photo AP

Many refugees leave Greece in a bid to reach northern Europe, but eight countries have introduced temporary border controls.

Some 13,000 refugees are currently stranded in northern Greece, after Macedonia, backed by Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia, closed its border to all but a trickle of refugees.

The human cost of the migrant crisis was brought home again on Sunday when a boat capsized off Turkey with the loss of 25 lives.

EU states remain divided over their response to the crisis with strains showing this year even in Germany and Sweden, seen as the countries most open to refugees.

Anti-migrant parties won a general election in Slovakia on March 5 which saw the far right gaining seats.

The summit will be in two parts – the first session will involve Turkey, while in the second part UK Prime Minister David Cameron will join other EU leaders in seeking to reach a common approach to the crisis.

The EU is expected to ask Turkey to take back thousands of refugees who do not qualify for asylum.

In return the EU will discuss plans to resettle in Europe some refugees already in Turkey.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan indicated last week Turkey was ready to take back all migrants apprehended in Turkish waters.

EU leaders are also likely to raise the issue of the Zaman newspaper, the biggest opposition journal in Turkey.

On March 4, a Turkish court ordered the seizure of the Zaman, increasing fears for media freedom. Two days later it was publishing pro-government articles.

At least 28 people have been killed and scores injured in a rush-hour car bombing targeting military personnel in Ankara, Turkey.

Ankara Governor Mehmet Kiliçer said the explosion was aimed at a convoy of military vehicles as it passed through the administrative center of the Turkish state, close to parliament, government buildings and Turkey’s military headquarters.

Deputy PM Numan Kurtulmus confirmed that the attack was carried out with a car bomb, but added that the perpetrators had not yet been identified.

“We do not yet know the perpetrators,” he told reporters.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

“This attack did not only target our military personnel in those shuttles. This attack openly targets our entire nation. We condemn those who carried it out, those who instrumentalized the perpetrators, and those who gave logistical, intelligence and even political support to such attacks.”

An official at the armed forces’ general staff confirmed military buses had been the target, hit by an explosive-laden car as they waited at traffic lights.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the attack would only strengthen Turkey’s resolve against insurgents.

PM Ahmet Davutoğlu cancelled a trip to Brussels to attend a security briefing. He said the authorities were looking into information they have received about the explosion on Wednesday night, February 17.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a statement saying: “We will continue our fight against the pawns that carry out such attacks, which know no moral or humanitarian bounds, and the forces behind them with more determination every day.”

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Security sources told Reuters that “initial signs [indicated] that militants from Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) were behind the Ankara bombing on Wednesday”. This has not been confirmed.

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Selahattin Demirtas’ call for Kurdish autonomy has been condemned by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as “treason”.

Recep Tayip Erdogan said, referring to Selahattin Demirtas, co-leader of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP): “What the co-leader has done is treason, provocation.”

At the weekend the HDP and other pro-Kurdish groups called for self-rule in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish south-east.

Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into those comments.

The Turkish military has stepped up operations against the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is fighting for Kurdish self-rule. The army says it has killed more than 200 PKK militants in the latest fighting.Recep Tayyip Erdogan slams Selahattin Demirtas call for Kurdish autonomy

The PKK is regarded as a “terrorist” organization by Turkey, the US and EU.

The HDP won 59 seats in Turkey’s 550-seat parliament in the November 1 elections. It came third, behind Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Speaking on December 29, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Selahattin Demirtas and other Kurdish leaders would be “taught a lesson” by the people and the law.

He accused Selahattin Demirtas of challenging Article 14 of the constitution, which bans activities deemed to “violate the indivisible integrity of the state”.

On December 27, Selahattin Demirtas backed a declaration by a Kurdish umbrella group – the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) – which called for “autonomous regions” and “self-governance bodies”.

The declaration, issued in the mainly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, said the “rightful resistance” of Kurds against Turkish state policies “is essentially a demand and struggle for local self-governance and local democracy”.

It called for the “formation of autonomous regions, to involve several neighboring provinces in consideration of cultural, economic and geographic affinities”.

The PKK has been battling the Turkish military for three decades, in a separatist conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people.

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Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reportedly stopped a man from committing suicide.

According to his office, the president talked the man out of jumping off the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul.

The man had climbed over a railing on the Bosphorus Bridge linking Europe with Asia and was threatening to kill himself.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s motorcade was crossing the bridge at the time.

Photo TRT World

Photo TRT World

TV pictures showed Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s staff asking the sobbing man to talk to the president. After a few moments, he was escorted to safety.

The man was suffering depression due to family problems, and police had been trying to prevent him from jumping for some two hours, the Dogan news agency reported.

Footage shows officials persuading him to go and talk to the president in his car.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan does not leave his car, and he speaks to the man with his mobile phone pressed to his ear.

An official from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office told Associated Press news agency he had promised to help him.

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Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dismissed Russian claims he is benefiting from the oil trade with ISIS as “slander”.

Russia claims that Turkey is the biggest buyer of oil smuggled from ISIS-held territory, accusing Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family of direct involvement.

However, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would resign if such allegations were proved.

Russia and Turkey are locked in an angry spat over the downing of a Russian warplane by Turkish forces.

Responding to the allegations, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said “no one has a right to engage in slander against Turkey by saying that Turkey is buying oil from Daesh [ISIS]”.

Earlier, Russia’s defense ministry displayed satellite images it said showed columns of trucks loaded with oil crossing from ISIS territory in Iraq and Syria into Turkey.Recep Tayyip Erdogan ISIS oil

“According to available information, the highest level of the political leadership of the country, President Erdogan and his family, are involved in this criminal business,” Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov told the briefing in Moscow.

Russia said it was producing only “part of the evidence” for now and did not provide direct proof of their claim that Recep Tayyip Erdogan and family were involved.

The US has also rejected the allegations.

“We just don’t believe that to be true in any way, shape or form,” a State Department spokesman said.

President Vladimir Putin has already accused Ankara of downing the plane on its Syrian border to protect oil supply lines.

Turkey said the Russian SU-24 fighter plane intruded into its airspace and ignored repeated warnings to leave.

Russia and Turkey have important economic ties, and in the wake of the incident Moscow imposed visa requirements for Turkish visitors, and placed restrictions on trade with Ankara.

On December 2, Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Russia’s response “disproportional” and said Turkey would take their “own measures” if they continued, without specifying what they would be.

Despite the tensions Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said he is prepared to meet Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu at a security conference in Serbia this week.

It would be the first time the officials have met since the downing of the Russian fighter jet.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has asked Russia to prove its claim that Ankara shot down a Russian fighter jet in order to protect its oil trade with ISIS.

“If you allege something you should prove it,” he said.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan was responding to a statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin saying that Turkey downed the jet as it was flying over Syria.

Turkey says the warplane entered its airspace and was warned to leave.

One Russian pilot was killed and the other rescued after Russia’s Su-24 bomber was shot down by a Turkish F-16 fighter on the Syrian border on November 24.

A Russian marine was killed during the rescue operation in north-western Syria.

Russia has insisted the fighter jet did not cross the border and that it gave advance notice of the flight path to the US, Turkey’s ally.

The US has supported Turkey’s version of events.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

“You should put your documents on the table if you have any. Let’s see the documents,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

“We are acting with patience. It is not positive for the two countries which have reached a position which could be regarded as a strategic partnership to make emotional statements.”

Recep Tayyip Erdogan also vowed to step down if the allegation that Turkey was buying oil from ISIS proved true, suggesting that President Vladimir Putin should do the same if he was wrong.

Russia is a major ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and its air strikes have targeted rebel groups, including ISIS.

Turkey strongly opposes Bashar al-Assad and has been accused of turning a blind eye to jihadist fighters crossing from its territory into Syria.

Until a few months ago, Turkey was reluctant to play an active role in the coalition against ISIS. However, in August it allowed the US-led coalition to begin using its airbase at Incirlik.

Russia has imposed sanctions on Turkey over the downing of the warplane, including restrictions on imports of Turkish food and an end to visa-free travel.

ISIS earns much of its money from illegal oil fields it controls in north-eastern Syria and western Iraq.

Some of the oil is sold to the Assad regime and some is smuggled through middlemen to Turkey. However, the Turkish government has consistently denied being involved in the trade.

“We have every reason to think that the decision to shoot down our plane was dictated by the desire to protect the oil supply lines to Turkish territory,” Vladimir Putin said at a news conference in Paris on November 30.

Vladimir Putin also accused Turkey of harboring “terrorist organizations” operating “in various regions of Russia, including the North Caucasus”.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he is “saddened” by the downing of a Russian warplane by Turkish forces on the Syrian border on November 24.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he wished the incident had not happened and hoped it would not happen again.

The Turkish president has so far refused to apologize to Russia, accusing Moscow of “playing with fire” in its Syria operations.

His remarks came as Turkey warned its citizens against non-essential travel to Russia.

The Foreign Ministry said visits should be avoided “until the situation becomes clear”, citing problems such as anti-Turkish demonstrations outside Turkey’s embassy in Moscow.

On November 27, Russia suspended its visa-free arrangement with Turkey and is planning to introduce a wide range of economic sanctions.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has asked for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but Vladimir Putin wants an apology from Turkey before he will agree to talks.

The Turkish president again defended the incident and criticized Russia’s operations in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad, whom Ankara opposes.

He renewed his call for a meeting with Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Paris Climate talks next week, saying that both sides should approach the issue more positively.Recep Tayyip Erdogan Saddened by Russian Warplane Downing

“We wish it hadn’t happened, but it happened,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, quoted by the Associated Press.

“I hope something like this doesn’t happen again.”

Russia has sent troops and aircraft to Syria to back up the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad in the civil war.

Turkey, which is a member of NATO and of a US-led coalition in the region, insists Bashar al-Assad must step down before any political solution to the Syrian conflict is found.

Both countries say they are trying to rid the region of ISIS, which claimed the recent attacks on Paris, Ankara and also on a Russian airliner.

On November 27, Russia said it had strengthened its anti-aircraft defenses by moving a cruiser towards the coast and deploying new missiles at its main base.

The Moskva cruiser’s long-range air defense system will provide cover for Russian aircraft, as will the S-400 missiles which arrived on November 26.

Turkey says the Russian combat jet had intruded into its airspace and ignored warnings to leave.

Moscow maintains that the downed SU-24 fighter jet was downed by a missile fired from a Turkish jet inside Syria.

Vladimir Putin has also firmly rejected any suggestion Turkey did not recognize the plane as Russian. He said it was easily identifiable and its co-ordinates had been passed on to Turkey’s ally, the US.

On November 26, Russia on said it was drafting a wide-ranging list of economic sanctions against Turkey that would hit food imports and joint investment projects among other things.

Turkey and Russia have important economic links. Russia is Turkey’s second-largest trading partner, while more than three million Russian tourists visited Turkey in 2014.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest statement on the downing of the plane came in an address to supporters in Balikesir, western Turkey, following the murder of a senior Kurdish lawyer, Tahir Elci, in the south-eastern city of Diyarbakir on November 28.

Tahir Elci was shot dead by an unknown gunman as he called for an end to violence between Turkey and the Kurdish rebel PKK group, which resumed in July.

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In a TV address, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned Russian President Vladimir Putin not to “play with fire” over Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane on Syrian border.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said he wanted to meet Vladimir Putin “face-to-face” at climate talks in Paris to resolve the issue.

Vladimir Putin wants an apology from Turkey before he will speak to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Russian president’s aide said.

Russia has suspended its visa-free arrangement with Turkey in the latest of a range of retaliatory measures.

Turkey says the Russian warplane was in its airspace when the decision was taken to shoot it down on November 24 – Russia insists the plane was flying over Syria at the time.

Tensions have been heightened by the fact that the two countries are pursuing different aims in Syria.

Russia has been carrying out air strikes against opponents of President Bashar al-Assad since late September, while Turkey, which is a member of a US-led coalition, insists Bashar al-Assad must step down before any political solution to the crisis is found.

However, all are united in trying to rid the region of ISIS, also known as Daesh.

In a televised speech, Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Russia it was “playing with fire to attack the Syrian opposition, who have international legitimacy, under the pretext of fighting against Daesh”.Turkey and Russia tensions

The Turkish president said Moscow was also playing with fire to use the downing of the jet “as an excuse to make unacceptable accusations against us”, and accused Russians of “mistreating” Turkish citizens who were in the country for a trade fair.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he hoped to meet Vladimir Putin face-to-face on the sidelines of the climate summit in Paris next week “to bring the issue to a reasonable point. We are disturbed that the issue has been escalated”.

While he has refused to apologize, Recep Tayyip Erdogan did say on November 26 that had Turkey known the plane was Russian, “maybe we would have warned it differently”.

Vladimir Putin has firmly rejected any suggestion Turkey did not recognize the plane as Russian. He said it was easily identifiable and its coordinates had been passed on to Turkey’s ally, the US.

A senior Russian commander went further on November 27 and claimed the Russian warplane was “ambushed” by two Turkish F-15s.

Gen. Viktor Bondarev said Russian and Syrian radar data showed the F-16s had been flying in the area for more than an hour and the plane that fired the missile did so from 1.2 miles inside Syria.

The Russian jet was shot down 3.4 miles south of the Turkish border, he said.

The Turkish military earlier in the week released audio of what it said were repeated warnings to the Russian jet to change its course, and claimed the jet had spent 17 seconds in Turkish air space before being shot down.

Announcing the suspension of a visa-free travel regime with Turkey from January 1, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he believed the Turkish leadership had “crossed the line of what is acceptable”.

On November 26, Russia said it was drafting a wide-ranging list of economic sanctions against Turkey that would hit food imports and joint investment projects among other things.

Turkey and Russia have important economic links. Russia is Turkey’s second-largest trading partner, while more than three million Russian tourists visited Turkey in 2014.

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Thirty five people have been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of links to exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen accused by the authorities of seeking to overthrow the government.

The Turkish government has accused Fethullah Gulen, the spiritual leader of the Hizmet movement, of trying to run a parallel state.

Turkish media said the arrests include senior bureaucrats and police officers.

Fethullah Gulen was once an ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose AK party was resoundingly re-elected on November 1.

However, the two fell out, and Fethullah Gulen now lives in self-imposed exile in the US.Fethullah Gulen supporters arrested

A Turkish court issued an arrest warrant for the influential cleric in 2014, accusing him of establishing and running an “armed terrorist group” – a claim the cleric strongly denies.

The state-run Anadolu Agency said those detained in today’s raids were suspected of acting “beyond their legal authority”.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has decried the work of Fethullah Gulen’s followers as that of “a state within a state”.

He has been seeking to curb the reach the Hizmet movement since 2013.

Last week Turkish police stormed the headquarters of a media group linked to Fethullah Gulen, raising concerns about media freedom days before the country’s election.

The parliamentary election on November 1 followed an earlier, inconclusive poll in June, in which Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP lost its majority in parliament.

The AKP’s victory came amid concerns about rising tensions in Turkey.

Turkey has stepped up operations against ISIS since it was blamed for twin blasts that killed more than 100 people in Ankara last month.

The double bombing, targeting a Kurdish peace rally, was Turkey’s most deadly, and came amid an upsurge of fighting between Turkish forces and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rebels.

On November 2, the Turkish military said it had carried out air strikes on PKK militant bases across the border in northern Iraq – the first on PKK targets in Iraq since November 1 election.

In a statement on November 3, the military said that Turkish jets hit PKK shelters, bunkers and weapon storages in six locations, including the Qandil mountains where the rebel leaders are based.

The military has been targeting bases and hideouts of the PKK since July, when renewed fighting between the rebels and Turkish security forces broke out, signaling a breakdown in a two-year ceasefire.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has won Turkey’s parliamentary election, regaining the majority it lost in June.

Qccording to Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency, with almost all ballots counted, AKP had won 49.4% of the vote, with the main opposition CHP on 25.4%.

PM Ahmet Davutoglu called the result a “victory for our democracy and our people”.

The pro-Kurdish HDP crossed the 10% threshold needed to claim seats.

The nationalist MHP will also take seats in Ankara.

Polls had indicated the AKP would receive only between 40-43% of the vote, in line with how it fared in June, when it lost its majority for the first time in 13 years.

Attempts to form a coalition government after the June election failed.Turkey elections 2015 ballot counting

With almost all of the results counted, the AKP won substantially more than the 276 seats needed to get a majority, allowing it to form a government on its own.

However, the AKP fell 14 seats short of the amount needed to call a referendum on changing the constitution and increasing the powers of the president, the party founder Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

With 60 more seats, the new government would have been able to bring in those changes without a referendum.

The AKP’s opponents had said the vote was a chance to curb what it sees as the increasingly authoritarian tendencies of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Since elections in June, a ceasefire between the Turkish army and militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) collapsed after a suicide bombing in July by suspected Islamic State (ISIS) militants.

The attack near the border with Syria killed more than 30 Kurds.

Turkey then suffered its deadliest attack in its modern history when more than 100 people were killed after a peace rally in Ankara attended by mainly left-wing demonstrators, including many HDP supporters, was targeted by two suicide bombers.

The government said they were linked to ISIS.

Critics have accused Recep Tayyip Erdogan of renewing violence to curb support for the HDP – something the government denies.

The HDP won 10.7% of the vote – enough to give it 59 parliamentary seats, 21 fewer than it claimed in June’s election.

The party cancelled rallies following the Ankara attack, and its co-chairman Selahettin Demirtas said on November 1 that it had not been “a fair or equal election”.

Clashes were reported in the mainly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir as the results were being counted. Reuters said police fired tear gas at protesters throwing stones.

Turkish voters are going to the polls in parliamentary elections for the second time in five months.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party failed to retain its majority in June’s poll.

Attempts to form a coalition government since then have proved unsuccessful.

Security is the key issue in the election after weeks of violence involving Kurdish militants and bomb attacks blamed on the Islamic State (ISIS) group.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised a return to stability if his party wins a majority.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

“This election will be for continuity of stability and trust,” he said after praying at a new mosque in Istanbul on Saturday. He vowed to respect the result.

However, his opponents warn that an outright victory would fuel what they see as his increasingly authoritarian tendencies.

If the AK Party again fails to secure a single-party majority in the 550-seat parliament, it may be forced back to the negotiating table with either the country’s main secularist CHP opposition or the nationalist MHP.

At June’s election, Recep Tayyip Erdogan sought a two-thirds majority to turn Turkey into a presidential republic, but his Islamist-rooted AK Party fell short.

The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) upset his ambitions by crossing the 10% threshold, securing seats in parliament for the first time.

In July, a ceasefire between the Turkish army and militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) collapsed after a suicide bombing by suspected Islamic State (ISIS) militants near the border with Syria, which killed more than 30 Kurds.

Turkey then suffered its worst terror attack when more than 100 people were killed after a peace rally attended by mainly left-wing demonstrators was attacked by two suicide bombers. The government said they were linked to ISIS.

Critics have accused Recep Tayyip Erdogan of renewing violence to curb support for the HDP – something the government denies.

The HDP’s leader Selahattin Demirtas said on October 31 that some of his party’s officials had been taken into custody, and questioned whether the election would be fair.

“We took the dictator down despite everything, and tomorrow we will show him how strong the power of the people is despite his impositions,” he said.

However, analysts say today’s vote is unlikely to resolve the deep divisions in Turkish society.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged political parties to “leave egos aside” and form a government as soon as possible.

It is the first time President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spoken publicly since his ruling AKP lost its parliamentary majority on June 7.

Speaking in the capital Ankara, the president said all sides must respect the election outcome “as the will of the people”.

The AKP is now likely to try to form a coalition, but no party has indicated it is willing to join forces with it.

Breaking his silence at a graduation ceremony for international students, Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that history would judge anyone who left Turkey in political limbo.President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Turkey elections 2015

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “We cannot leave Turkey without a government, without a head.”

He added that he hoped political parties would “prefer solution rather than crisis”.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would do his part in finding a solution and that nobody should doubt he will carry out his duties within the constitution.

The AKP secured 41% of the vote in Sunday’s election, a sharp drop compared to the 2011 vote.

The party has 45 days after the final official election results are declared to form a government – but that declaration is yet to happen.

If no coalition deal is reached, a fragile minority government and early elections loom.

Earlier, PM Ahmet Davutoglu said the AKP was open to all options but warned that history had shown coalition governments were not suitable for Turkey.

“We’ve used the coalition eras of the 1970s and 1990s as an example to show that coalitions are not suitable for Turkey and we still stand by that stance,” Ahmet Davutoglu told a meeting of AKP officials.

He added that in the “current political picture” the AKP were “the only party that can come up with realistic solutions”.

Ahmet Davutoglu resigned earlier this week after the AK Party lost its parliamentary majority for the first time in 13 years, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked him to stay on until a new government is formed.

Securing a working coalition will be tough, with opposition parties likely to demand limits on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s role.

In the build up to the election, the president had been seeking a two-thirds majority to turn Turkey into a presidential republic.

However, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) upset Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ambitions by crossing the 10% threshold and securing seats in parliament for the first time.

On June 11, HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtas said his party was open to working with other opposition parties but ruled out forming a coalition with the AKP.

“Pulling Turkey into early election debates right away will not help. We believe Turkey has to continue on its way by forming a coalition,” he told reporters in Ankara.

Selahattin Demirtas also said that the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan, was ready to make a call for disarmament and that a peace process with the militants should soon move forward.

He said the HDP, which has played a central role in peace talks, had visited Abdullah Ocalan on the island prison of Imrali and would be applying to make another visit soon.

The peace process with Abdullah Ocalan was launched by Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2012 in a bid to end a three-decade conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party AKP faces a challenge to form a new government after losing its majority at Turkey’s general election for the first time in 13 years.

AKP secured 41%, a sharp drop from 2011, and must form a coalition or face entering a minority government.

The pro-Kurdish HDP crossed the 10% threshold, securing seats in parliament for the first time.

The Turkish lira and shares dropped sharply on June 8 as markets reacted to the news.

The Turkish currency fell to near-record lows against the dollar, and shares dropped by more than 8% soon after the Istanbul stock exchange opened.

Turkey’s central bank acted quickly to prop up the lira by cutting the interest rate on foreign currency deposits.

The election result is a blow to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plans to boost his office’s powers.Turkey elections 2015 Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Recep Tayyip Erdogan first came to power as prime minister in 2003 and had been seeking a two-thirds majority to turn Turkey into a presidential republic.

PM Ahmet Davutoglu said: “The winner of the election is again the AKP, there’s no doubt.”

He added: “Our people’s decision is final. It’s above everything and we will act in line with it.”

The HDP’s supporters were jubilant, taking to the streets to chant “we are the HDP, we are going to the parliament”.

HDP leader Selahattin Demirtas ruled out entering into a coalition with the AKP.

He said at a news conference in Istanbul “The discussion of executive presidency and dictatorship has come to an end in Turkey with these elections.”

With nearly all the votes counted, the AKP looks likely to win 258 seats in parliament, 18 fewer than it requires for a majority.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) looks likely to be the second largest party, as in the previous parliament, polling around 25% of the vote.

In third place is the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on 16.5%, with the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in fourth place with 13%.

The HDP is expected to finish with 75 to 80 seats after attracting votes beyond its Kurdish support base.

Many turned out to vote in the HDP’s heartland of Diyarbakir, two days after a bombing in the eastern city killed two people and injured 200 more.

The MHP’s leader Devlet Bahceli did not rule out the possibility of entering a coalition government, but said the results represented the “beginning of the end for the AKP”.

Once viewed as invincible, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party has been criticized in recent years for its clampdown on free speech and its growing authoritarianism.

After the official result is declared, Ahmet Davutoglu has 45 days to form a government.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party AKP appears on course to lose its parliamentary majority after today’s general elections in Turkey, early projections suggest.

According to Turkish exit polls, the pro-Kurdish HDP is set to cross the 10% threshold, securing seats for the first time.

With 90% of the vote counted, the AKP had 42% of the vote, according to Turkish TV stations.

If confirmed, the result would end the AKP’s 13-year single-party rule, and upset President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plans to boost his office’s powers.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who first came to power as prime minister in 2003, has been seeking a two-thirds majority to turn Turkey into a presidential republic.Turkey elections 2015 HDP

According to the TV projections, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party’s share of the vote would translate into 263 seats in the 550-seat parliament, followed by the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) would get 11.6% – 75 seats.

An unnamed AKP official told Reuters news agency: “We expect a minority government and early election.”

Turkey’s PM Ahmet Davutoglu also said: “The people’s decision is the most correct decision.”

HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas complained as he voted that the election campaign “was not a fair and equal race”. Four people died in an explosion at a party rally on June 5.

Selahattin Demirtas added: “Hopefully we will wake up to a new and freer Turkey on June 8.”

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, chairman of the CHP, echoed Selahattin Demirtas and called the campaign period “unequal”. He promised however to “continue to work with a sense of responsibility”.

The result may have ramifications beyond Turkey’s borders.

Turkey is a vital NATO member in a volatile Middle East and a rare mix of Islam and democracy.

Turkey is voting in a general election which will determine whether President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party, AKP, can change the constitution.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who first came to power as prime minister in 2003, is seeking a big enough majority to turn Turkey into a presidential republic.

However, the pro-Kurdish HDP may cross the 10% threshold and enter parliament.

Explosions at its election rally in Diyarbakir on June 5 killed four.

Photo AP

Photo AP

Officials said the blasts were caused by improvised bombs.

HDP leader Selahattin Demirtas criticized Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s response to the killings.

If the left-wing HDP succeeds in winning seats in parliament for the first time, it would reduce the number of seats won by Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP, thwarting its plans to change the constitution and transfer the prime minister’s executive powers to the president.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan served as prime minister until he won the presidential election in 2014.

A strong showing by the HDP might well deprive the ruling AKP of a parliamentary majority.

Sunday’s election is the biggest electoral challenge for the AKP since it came to power 13 years ago.

The result may also have ramifications beyond Turkey’s borders.

Turkey is a vital NATO member in a volatile Middle East and a rare mix of Islam and democracy.

Turkish state television TRT has banned the main opposition party’s election campaign advertisement because it directly targets the government.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) accused TRT of “abusing public office” and vowed to take legal action.

The opposition party has previously protested at TRT “bias” towards President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The election will take place on June 7.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

In a statement on the CHP website, deputy leader Bulent Tezcan said: “By taking the decision not the broadcast the advertisement, TRT has created a new scandal.

“The main purpose of state-funded television in all democratic countries is fairness of broadcasting. TRT’s direction is committing the crime of abuse of public office.”

Bulent Tezcan also reminded the state TV that it is “owned by the public”.

TRT has so far declined to comment.

The opposition ad featured the slogan “we applaud as a nation” and criticized the “oppression” of justice, freedom and secularism in Turkey.

It urged voters to attend CHP’s first mass election rally on April 11.

The controversy follows a ruling by a court in Ankara on April 9, which ordered CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu to pay damages for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a speech in 2013.

Turkish prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz, who is heading the inquiry into the death of teenager Berkin Elvan during anti-government protests in 2013, has been taken hostage by gunmen in Istanbul.

Dramatic images have emerged on social media of a gun being held to the head of Mehmet Selim Kiraz at a court house in Istanbul.

A banned Marxist revolutionary group is said to be behind the incident.

A statement posted online said Mehmet Selim Kiraz would be killed if their demands were not met.

Turkish special forces entered the court house, which was evacuated, and gunshots were heard from inside the building, Turkish news agencies reported.

City police chief Selami Altinok told reporters that negotiations with the hostage takers were under way.

“We are trying to resolve the issue without anyone being hurt,” he said.

The Turkish government has banned live TV coverage of the incident, citing security concerns.

Berkin Elvan, who was then 14, was struck in the head by a police tear gas canister in June 2013 as he went to buy bread during mass demonstrations that began in Istanbul and spread across Turkey.

After nine months in a coma Berkin Elvan eventually died in an Istanbul hospital.Turkish prosecutor investigating Berkin Elvan's death taken hostage

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan inflamed passions shortly after Berkin Elvan’s death when he said the boy had been carrying a slingshot and had been “taken up into terrorist organizations”.

Suspected members of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) took the prosecutor hostage on the sixth floor of the Caglayan court house, reports said.

A website close to the group has published a series of demands, including calls for an immediate confession from police officers responsible for the boy’s death, and for an end to prosecutions of protesters charged over the clashes.

Berkin Elvan’s father appealed for the prosecutor to be freed: “My son is dead but let no-one else die.”

The DHKP-C is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and US. It said it carried out a suicide bombing in February 2013 at the US embassy in Ankara, where a security guard was killed.

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President Barack Obama has denounced the murders of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina as “brutal and outrageous”.

In a statement, Barack Obama said no one in the US should be targeted for “what they look like” or “how they worship”.

Barack Obama’s comments came after criticism from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the president’s silence.Chapel Hill shooting victims

With suspect Craig Hicks in custody, police are still investigating the motive, amid family claims it was a hate crime.

The FBI has opened an inquiry into the case.

Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife Yusor Mohammad and her sister Razan were found dead on February 10 in their home near the University of North Carolina, where Barakat was a dental student.

Craig Hicks, a neighbor of the students, has been charged with the murders.

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Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticized President Barack Obama for his silence over the murder of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said politicians were responsible for events in their countries and had to clarify their stance over them.

More than 5,000 people attended the funeral of the students who were shot dead in Chapel Hill on February 10.

With a suspect in custody, police are still investigating the motive, amid family claims it was a hate crime.

Initial indications are that the gunman, Craig Hicks, acted in a dispute with the victims over a parking space, according to the police.

A district prosecutor said on February 11 there was no evidence that the victims – Deah Shaddy Barakat, wife Yusor Mohammad and her sister Razan – had been targeted because of their faith.Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Chapel Hill shooting

However, at next day’s funeral, the local police chief said his force would investigate every lead, including the possibility of a hate crime.

The murders have resonated both within US and around the world, especially on social media. The hashtag ChapelHillShooting has been used hundreds of thousands of times.

Speaking on a visit to Mexico, Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice-President Joe Biden for not having made any statement about the murder of the “three Muslims”.

“If you stay silent when faced with an incident like this, and don’t make a statement, the world will stay silent towards you,” he said.

“As politicians, we are responsible for everything that happens in our countries and we have to show our positions.”

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a devout Sunni Muslim who has been increasingly critical of the treatment of Muslims living in Western societies.

His relations with the Obama administration have also come under strain over the conflict in Syria and Iraq.

Turkey and the US are allies in the campaign against Islamic State militants, but differences over tactics have emerged over the last six months.

Thursday’s funeral was held at the athletic fields of North Carolina State University where all three victims had been students. Police estimate 5,500 people attended the event.

Craig Hicks gave himself up to police and has been charged with the murders. His Facebook profile included a photo that read “Atheists for Equality”. He also frequently posted quotes critical of religion.

However, his wife, Karen Hicks, said the incident had nothing to do with religion and her husband treated everyone equally. He also apparently had a history of conflicts with neighbors over parking spaces.

Deah Shaddy Barakat was a dental student at the university and his wife was planning to enroll in the school in the next term.

There has been criticism of a perceived lack of coverage in the mainstream media with the hashtag MuslimLivesMatter mentioned almost 100,000 times in the day following the shooting.

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A Turkish teenager has been arrested on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to local media.

The 16-year-old high-school student was arrested on December 24 after criticizing Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party during a speech at a student protest in the central Anatolian city of Konya.

The boy could face up to 4 years in prison if found guilty.

PM Ahmet Davutoglu defended the arrest, saying the presidential office “needs to be shown respect”.

Turkey’s penal code makes it a crime to insult the president.

The student’s speech, given to commemorate the killing of a Turkish soldier by Islamists in the 1920s, was recorded on video and broadcast by Dogan News Agency.

In it, he defends secularism and the principles of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish republic.

The student also singled out Recep Tayyip Erdogan for criticism over recent corruption allegations, as the crowd chanted “everywhere is bribery, everywhere is corruption”.

Hurriyet newspaper said the boy was believed to be a member of a leftist organization, but he denies having links with any political party.

Speaking to prosecutors, the student said: “I’ve made the statement in question. I have no intent to insult.”

The teenager has pleaded not guilty and his lawyers have lodged an appeal against the charges.

The arrest sparked fierce criticism of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with Attila Kart, a member of opposition party CHP, saying the president was creating “an environment of fear, oppression and threat”.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was elected president in August after serving as prime minister for 11 years, has faced several corruption allegations in recent years.

He insists they are baseless and part of a “dark plot” to oust him from power by influential cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is in self-imposed exile in the US.

Earlier this month, police arrested more than 20 journalists working for media outlets thought to be sympathetic to the Gulen movement.

A Turkish court has also issued an arrest warrant for Fethullah Gulen himself, but correspondents say it is considered to be largely symbolic and unlikely to be acted upon.

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An arrest warrant has been issued by a Turkish court for the influential exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Fethullah Gulen, who is based in the US, is accused of establishing and running an “armed terrorist group”.

He was once an ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan but has now been accused of plotting to overthrow the Turkish government – a claim the cleric strongly denies.

The US is thought to be unlikely to act on any extradition request.

The move comes amid a national crackdown on perceived supporters of the cleric.

Over 20 journalists working for media outlets thought to be sympathetic to the Gulen movement were arrested last weekend.Fethullah Gulen arrest warrant issued in Turkey

Eight of them were freed on December 19 on the orders of a court in Istanbul. Those released include Ekrem Dumanli, editor-in-chief of Zaman newspaper.

Four others, including a TV station boss, remain in custody.

While the US and Turkey have an extradition agreement, the warrant is considered to be largely symbolic – and unlikely to be acted upon.

The relationship between Washington and Ankara has grown fractious, though they remain allies.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has faced criticism from international leaders and his opponents, who accuse him of authoritarianism and undermining free press.

Many abroad believe that the charges against Fethullah Gulen are politically motivated.

The wealthy cleric, who operates an international network of schools and businesses, has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999.

According to media reports, the prosecutor filing the arrest warrant accused Fethullah Gulen of leading an armed terrorist group – a charge that carries up to 15 years in prison.