Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is being blasted as an enemy of free speech, especially for a statement he made–“I am increasingly against the Internet every day.” Erdogan’s unhappy conclusion is being put in headlines to imply that Erdogan is comparable to the Chinese leadership that is cracking down on communications in Hong Kong. Turkey has come under fire recently for trying to control online speech, after what Erdogan and other Turkish officials believe has been “polarizing and distorting coverage of recent events.”
Erdogan has blocked YouTube in Turkey after the alleged posting of classified talks about Turkey’s role in the Syria conflict. And the government had previously blocked Twitter, before Turkish courts ordered the ban lifted. (The president is accused of shutting down these services to cover up accusations of corruption in his government.) But the statement—-“I am increasingly against the Internet every day”–was made not only in reference to his own political troubles, but also in response to the fact that the Internet is being effectively used as a recruiting tool by terrorist groups like ISIS. Turkey, which borders both Iraq and Syria–the two countries in which ISIS has established dangerous strongholds–is at far greater risk of problems arising from ISIS recruiting efforts than any other NATO nation.