A country’s national broadcaster has been hit with a legal challenge after the government said it would no longer allow its website to display cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed or other controversial figures, following complaints from the American Muslim community.
The broadcaster’s website is blocked in Turkey, the country where the channel is based, and a similar case has been brought against CNN Turk in Kazakhstan, according to a statement from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Monday.
The court in the southern city of Izmir has granted a stay of proceedings on the applications from the Turkish and Kazakh governments, while the government in Ankara is considering its legal options.
The AKP’s ruling party has also launched an online petition, which has gathered over 2,600 signatures, asking the Turkish government to withdraw the ban on its website.
The petition states: “We believe that the Turkish National Television (TSN) is violating the rights of the Turkish citizens by blocking cartoons of [Muhammad], [Muammar] al-Qaddafi, and [Emir] Ahmed al-Sisi, and that it is an attack on free speech.”
The petition also criticises Turkey’s handling of the Kurdish issue, saying the country has “feared that it will become a battleground for the Kurdish struggle against the Turkish state”.
The move comes at a time of increasing international pressure on Turkey to rein in its increasingly authoritarian state.
The Turkish government has also been accused of failing to hold a national election scheduled for September 18 and 19.