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Counterterrorism Strategies and Democracy: Lessons for the US from the (Unfortunate) Example of Turkey


On Saturday May 11, two massive car bombs exploded in the center of Reyhanlı, a town in the province of Hatay, Turkey, which has served as a refuge for Syrians who have fled from the civil war since 2011. The official death toll stands at 51 people, mostly Turks and some Syrian refugees, while unofficial accounts point to about 200 dead and hundreds of injured. The reason there are official and unofficial numbers is that, within the same day, the Reyhanlı Court banned all audio, visual and written media reports on the bombing. Censorship is not new to the Turkish people. Neither are terrorist attacks. Turkey has long struggled against Kurdish insurgency, and the PKK (Kurdistan Worker's Party) has carried out terrorist attacks against civilians since 1984. The West often refers to Turkey as a "democratic model" and an "inspiration" to Arab Spring countries for its accommodating brand of Islamism and its democracy. Nevertheless, the media have been under strict supervision from the military in the decades after the 1980 coup. The media ban after the Reyhanlı bombing shows that they still are censored, but this time it was the courts instead of the military behind the decision. The opposition argues courts are no longer independent in Turkey. Regardless, censorship and inaccurate information are the first blows to democracy in any country that deals with terrorism.


Publication Information

Full Citation:

Satana, Nil. 2013. "Counterterrorism Strategies and Democracy: Lessons for the US from the (Unfortunate) Example of Turkey." May 31. www.start.umd.edu/news/discussion-point-counterterrorism-strategies-and-democracy-lessons-us-unfortunate-example

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