Turkish court blocks atheist group’s website

Turkish courts regularly block sites seen as offensive to Islam

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A Turkish court has blocked access to a website for the country’s first atheist association, ruling it was an “insult to religious values” in the overwhelmingly Muslim nation, the group said on Wednesday.

The court in an Ankara suburb said the website for Ateizm Dernegi (Atheist Society), founded last year in Istanbul, was engaged in “activities likely to disturb public order.”

The association denounced the ruling in a statement, calling it “undemocratic and illegal” and saying it would harm Turkey`s reputation abroad.

In an interview with Turkish media in 2014, the association’s founders said they had created the group to “legally support those threatened due to their atheism” after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested a link between atheists and terrorists.

Critics accuse Erdogan, prime minister from 2003 until he became president in August, of increasing authoritarianism, particularly following anti-government protests that rocked the country in 2013.

Turkish pianist Fazil Say, known for his atheism, was given a 10-month suspended sentence in 2013 for harming religious values after a series of tweets judged as insulting to Islam.

Turkish courts regularly block sites seen as offensive to Islam.

In January, Turkey banned the online publication of Prophet Mohammed cartoons by French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in the wake of the jihadist attack on the paper’s Paris office that killed 12 people.

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