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Turkish lawmakers clear way for censorship of websites insulting founder

[JURIST] A Turkish parliamentary committee okayed legislation Thursday that would censor websites seen as insulting to the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Atatürk [Turkishnews profile]. Legislators debated whether Turkey [JURIST news archive] should also have the right to censor sites that questioned the unity of the Turkish state, or the legitimacy of Turkey's secular government. It is unknown when the legislation will come up to a vote.

The legislation stems from a recent political fracas set off by a YouTube [corporate website] video that alluded to the famed Turkish leader being homosexual. A court injunction banned access to YouTube countrywide [JURIST report]. Turkey lifted the ban [JURIST report] when the original offensive video was removed. Critics have decried Turkey's use of censorship as a political tool. In Turkey it is illegal to insult Atatürk or insinuate that Turkey should be broken up ethnically. Many prominent Turkish journalists, authors, and academics have been investigated and tried for insulting "Turkishness" [JURIST report] under Article 301 [Amnesty backgrounder; JURIST news archive] of Turkey's penal code [text, in Turkish]. Although the original video is gone, many copycats are uploading their own offensive videos [YouTube archive] The entire affair has inflamed longstanding tensions between Turkish and Greek citizens into a "virtual war" on YouTube messageboards. On Wednesday, Thailand too censored YouTube for allegedly hosting insulting videos of the Thai king [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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