“Zaman, killed on Friday, wakes up on Sunday as a pro-government zombie,” writes journalist Piotr Zalewski this week.
But the “killing” of Zaman on March 4 did not happen quietly and without incident. Instead, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, a court order in hand from a docile judiciary, raided the editorial offices of the newspaper, fighting demonstrators with tear gas and water canons. Now Zaman is in government custody, rededicated to praise the glory of a defiant president.
The violent crackdown on the free press brings the “darkest hours” in the country’s history, as the editors described the incident before being ousted from their offices.
Zaman and its sister publication, Today’s Zaman, had a daily circulation of 650,000, one of the largest in Turkey.
Zaman, before its takeover this past week, was affiliated with the Gulenist movement, controlled by the exiled cleric Fetullah Gulen. At one time, Gulen and Erdogan were allies in promoting the Islamist AK Party to take over power in Turkey. After Erdogan established himself as the authoritarian ruler of Turkey, he had a fallout with his erstwhile ally, who continued to enjoy broad support in the Turkish armed forces, police and judiciary.