The government seems to be interested in the issue especially after the release of the anti-Islamic film “The Innocence of Muslims,” Aykan Erdemir, a CHP Bursa deputy and one of the people responsible for the study, told a group of journalists in Istanbul yesterday.
“But the issue cannot be reduced only to Islamophobia, and we should be very careful not to limit the freedom of speech or media freedom when fighting against hate crimes,” he said.
The most important thing is to track and report such crimes as Turkey lacks the mechanisms to do so, Erdemir said. “We do not even have exact numbers on hate crimes in Turkey; it is impossible to tell how many are committed every year.”
To deal with issues of tracking hate crimes, the CHP suggested the establishment of financially and administratively independent state institutions such as a Battle against Discrimination and Equality Council and National Human Rights Institution and the appointment of an ombudsman.
The CHP believes that a measure increasing penalties in cases of crimes committed based on bias against ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and other factors could be sufficient for now.
Erdemir said international reports and observations on Turkey, including the 2012 EU Progress Report, revealed that no progress had been made in the last decade in addressing the problems of hate crime and hate speech.
He also said hate speech was a problem that should be addressed separately from hate crimes. “For now, we must focus on hate crimes, because dealing with hate speech is a very delicate issue.”
Education is the basis in the fight against hate crimes and hate speech, and all public employees should go under sensitivity training, Erdemir said, adding that the CHP would approach the problem in a bipartisan way.
He also said he hoped an agreement could be reached between the ruling and opposition parties in Parliament to approve a law.
Özgür Korkmaz, Hurriyet Daily News, October/19/2012