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Opposition Leader, 73 Lawmakers Face Charges Over Share of Anti-Erdogan Cartoon

Turkish prosecutors have brought charges against the chairman of main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and 73 lawmakers over tweeting a cartoon that depicts President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in various forms of animals.

The office of President Erdogan filed lawsuits against CHP leader Kilicdaroglu and lawmakers from his party.

During a graduation ceremony at the Middle Eastern Technical University (ODTU) in Ankara, students exhibited a banner that had been previously published by a critical cartoon journal, Penguen, in the 2000s. Erdogan then filed a lawsuit in a bid to seek compensation and ban of the cartoon. An Ankara court dropped the case, regarded the cartoon within the scope of free expression. That angered Erdogan who then had no chance but to comply with the verdict.

The display of the cartoon on July 6 landed four students in pretrial detention. After they carried a “banner printed with a cartoon of animals whose faces resembled Erdogan, entitled “The World of Tayyip,” the police raided their houses at dawn and arrested them.

To display their support for the detained students and to defend the right to free speech, CHP leader and party deputies shared the cartoon on their Twitter accounts.

The boundaries of free speech, and what would be the criteria to draw a line between criticism and insult on someone’s personality have become recurring themes of political controversy.

Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson Mahir Unal slammed CHP leader for his tweet.

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