In a first, Twitter restricts 'hateful' LGBTQ posts by Turkish interior minister

In a first, Twitter restricts 'hateful' LGBTQ posts by Turkish interior minister
Two of Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu's tweets have now been restricted for 'violating the Twitter rules around hateful conduct'.
3 min read
02 February, 2021
The restricted tweet states the arrest of four 'LGBT deviants' [Getty/Twitter]
Twitter on Tuesday labeled as "hateful" a post by Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu that described members of the LBGTQ community as "deviants".

It is the first time the social media giant has restricted a post by a Turkish official.

The move comes against the background of ongoing protests at an Istanbul university over the appointment of a rector by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Four Bogazici University students were detained last week over a piece of protest art that superimposed LGBTQ community flags over an image of Islam's holiest site, the Great Mosque of Mecca and the Kaaba at its centre.

Ruling party officials lashed out against the LGTQ community in response to the incident, with Interior Minister Soylu celebrating the arrest of the four "deviants".

Some social media users called on Twitter to remove or restrict the post, an action previously taken against Donald Trump before the former president was permanently banned from the platform.

Users of the social media platform are still able to see the tweet - which initially appears on Twitter users' timelines as a message declaring the post "violated the Twitter rules around hateful conduct" - because it has determined to be in the "public interest".

After the tweet was restricted on Tuesday, the Turkish interior minister shared another post that twice labeled members of the LGBT community as "deviants".

"Should we tolerate the LGBT deviants who insulted the Kaaba? Of course not," reads the image shared by Soylu and marked with the interior ministry logo.

The post goes on to describe politicians who have voiced support for the LGBT community as "toys in a [foreign] agency's hands".

The post was later restricted by Twitter in the same manner as Soylu's earlier tweet.

Twitter currently faces fines of $3.8 million in Turkey over its failure to comply with new social media laws last year. It has also been banned from advertising in the country.

The restrictions require social media companies to appoint a local legal representative and comply with government requests to remove content.

Dozens arrested as protests continue

At least 159 people were arrested on Monday as the demonstrations over President Erdogan's appointment of a new rector to Bogazici University continued.

Melih Bulu, a member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), was appointed as the university's head in early January.

Students and teachers at Bogazici, one of Turkey's most prestigious universities, have described the appointment as undemocratic and called for Bulu's resignation.

University rectors were historically elected but that changed with new measures brought in by President Erdogan following a 2016 coup attempt. 

It is the first time the president has appointed a rector to the elite Istanbul university, however.

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