Turkey's PM, generals unite in anger at writer's Aesop fable

Thu May 10, 2012 11:18am EDT
 
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By Daren Butler

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A journalist's fable portraying the Turkish military as a spoilt, overfed dog has provoked a rare show of unity by top generals and the Prime Minister seen by many as their nemesis.

"This is an individual whose pen always drips with filth," Erdogan said of columnist Bekir Coskun, whose account of a privileged military that puts comfort and security before freedom drew on a fable from ancient Greek writer Aesop.

Erdogan has radically cut back the power of a military that toppled four governments in the last five decades. Hundreds of serving and retired officers face accusations of coup plots in trials unthinkable only a few years ago for a long-privileged army that kept politicians on a short leash.

Writing in the secularist Cumhuriyet newspaper at the end of April, Coskun retold the ancient Greek story with a twist by naming the tame dog "Pasha", the honorary Ottoman title given to generals and to secular state founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

"I think the Pashas should now seek legal redress over this matter," said Erdogan, who himself once sued a cartoonist who had depicted him as a cat.

Some 100 journalists are currently in jail in Turkey, attracting international criticism of the European Union candidate's record on freedom of expression. The government says few of them are in jail due to what they have written.

ARMY STATEMENT

The army has also issued a statement attacking writers who undermine or provoke the army, saying they abused freedom of expression.   Continued...