Turkey's media watchdog fines critical news broadcaster over CHP member's remarks on headscarves

Turkey's Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) fined Halk TV, a news broadcaster critical of the government, for remarks made by a main opposition member who said he wouldn't trust a judge with a headscarf to defend his rights and deliver justice.

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Turkey's Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) has fined critical news broadcaster Halk TV for a statement made on the channel by a former lawmaker of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy.

The fine concerned remarks of Fikri Sağlar who implied that judges with headscarves would be discriminatory in their rulings against him. 

"Honestly I doubt if a judge with a headscarf would protect my rights and deliver justice," Sağlar said on Halk TV, which also led to a police investigation.

RTÜK ruled that Sağlar's comments were discriminatory on the basis of religion, which was a direct violation of the Turkish Constitution. 

Muslim headscarves have been a political battleground between Turkey's conservative and secular circles for decades, with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) taking great pride in lifting a ban on wearing headscarves in universities in Turkey.

Meanwhile, critical news broadcast Tele 1 was fined for a news anchor's criticism of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), saying that femicides would continue to be committed in Turkey as long as Diyanet continued policies that interfere with women's rights.

"These femicides will continue as long as Diyanet meddles in our womanhood, homes, families, reproduction and jobs," anchor Evren Özelkuş said while reporting on the brutal murder of academic Aylin Sözer. 

Media ban about a previous media ban

Separately, an Istanbul court put a media ban for reporting about a previous media ban, which barred the publication of any news regarding CHP-led Istanbul Municipality's criminal complaints about the previous municipal administration of the ruling AKP.

The Istanbul court banned access to Gazete Duvar, Birgün, Cumhuriyet, Odatv, Aykırı and Sözcü portals and dailies, which are among the limited number of media outlets in Turkey that report on matters critical of the ruling AKP.

Almost all of Turkey's media landscape has been taken over by pro-government organizations and owners, and most are under heavy censorship, to the point that news of former Finance Minister Berat Albayrak's resignation on Instagram wasn't published by these outlets until a confirming statement from Ankara the next day.