European Parliament (EP) President Antonio Tajani on Wednesday made a controversial decision to prohibit the distribution of the English-language Daily Sabah, a Turkish newspaper, within the premises of the parliament building.
The campaign to ban the newspaper was started by Jeroen Lenaers, a Dutch member of parliament.
Lenaers sent a letter to the EP president in response to an article titled “Gulenist Terror Group (FETO) network in Holland,” claiming that the paper was targeting Gulenists, and requested to ban the newspaper.
Speaking to the Daily Sabah, the head of the EP press unit, Marjory van den Broeke, confirmed the decision, saying "some members of parliament were not happy with Daily Sabah."
— DAILY SABAH (@DailySabah) March 24, 2017
Lanaers has in the past shared tweets of fugitive FETO suspect Abdullah Bozkurt and has called on Ankara to release suspected FETO members who are facing multiple criminal charges in Turkey.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking at an event in Istanbul on Friday, slammed the move.
"You see, they banned Daily Sabah in the European Parliament. You claim you have freedom of the press! Why did you ban it? You will be held accountable … You call Tayyip Erdogan a ‘dictator,’ well in response, we will call you ‘fascists’ and ‘Nazis,'" he said.
Let me tell you why… These people are drawing swastikas in our houses of worships in Europe. And the state allows them to do so. Many of our citizens have been killed in Europe, but we haven not seen any results.
Other Turkish politicians have also criticised the decision.
Deputy AK Party chairman Mehdi Eker said the EU was moving further away from its core values. "I am addressing 500 million Europeans, embrace your values. Stand in the way of such a repressive mindset," he added.
Mehmet Akarca, head of the Prime Ministry's Directorate General of Press and Information (BYEGM) said the decision "is a dark stain on the history of journalism."