A front-page caricature of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been published in a Dutch newspaper and has since gone viral.
The cartoon by the daily De Telegraaf depicts Erdogan as a monkey with a fierce expression looming over paper, broken stationery and a tiny woman, a reference about Ankara’s crackdown on freedom of speech in Turkey and beyond. The president is standing on a rock that says “APENROTS” — a term literally translated as “monkey rocks” — which is used to refer to the Dutch Ministry as well as a place where one person holds power.
The case of Ebru Umar, a Dutch journalist represented by the tiny woman in the caricature, seems to be the most recent one in the series of onslaught against the criticism of the Turkish president.
Umar, who has been very vocal against Islamic radicalism, said in an interview she was wrenched out of bed and her apartment burgled after she criticized a Turkish ambassador in the Netherlands for asking Turk groups to report incidences of insults against Erdogan.
The journalist was released a day later after officials expressed concerns, but is not allowed to leave the country and has to report twice a week to the police.
The apparent attacks against the media in Europe by Ankara started in March when a famous German comedian, Jan Boehmermann, aired a highly NSFW poem about Turkey’s president. Soon after, Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned him and Erdogan called for his prosecution — which further led to protests in the European Union.
Just this week, a German politician was detained in Berlin for reciting a couple of phrases from Boehmermann’s satirical spoof, while Spectator, a U.K.-based magazine, launched a competition to compose the most offensive limericks against Erdogan.
Since Erdogan took the presidency in August 2014, trials in Turkey for perceived slurs against him have increased exponentially. Currently almost 2,000 such cases are open in Ankara.