I’ve written about the abject failure of Turkish media to adequately cover the news of the most important protests in the country since the 1980 coup. Many media outlets aired irrelevant documentaries and talk shows (talk show about legal definitions of theft, cooking shows, dolphin training, etc) while clashes spread to dozens of provinces and many neighborhoods in many major cities.
In fact, CNN Turkey’s (owned by Time Warner and Turkish Dogan media group) airing of “penguin” documentaries during intense clashes (while CNN International reported news from Turkey!) became a protest meme.
A prominent actor used his interview on CNN to wear a penguin shirt and desperate Turks tried to lure CNN Turkey back to news by photoshopping penguins into protest pictures:
Perhaps one of the most striking attempts to pierce and criticize the veil of censorship on Turkish media came from a quiz show host, Ali İhsan Varol, whose “Guess the Word” program airs on weeknights. As citizens of Turkey watched with their jaws on the floor (and many standing up and clapping in front of their TV sets according to my social media feeds), he asked his guests to guess words such as “resistance,” “censorship,” twitter”, “tear gas”, and more. He finished his 70 queries with questions whose answers were “resign” and “apologize.”
The next day, he was not allowed to air live and his fate remains uncertain.
Here’s a short clip of the game. After the clip, the full list of questions and answers.
Here’s a (rough) translation of the questions and answers Ali Ihsan Varol asked his guests on live TV on June 3rd (Turkish here, feedback welcome, very quick translation):
1- A journey undertaken to see, to have fun: GEZI –name of the park that is at the center of the protests.
2- A large garden with trees and flowers in the center of a place of residence that allows people to breathe: PARK
3- In international law, someone who is not a member of armed forces or other armed groups in a country: CIVILIAN
4- An activity geared towards trying to change or improve a situation: A PROTEST [EYLEM]
5- A coming together around a set of ideas without being divided: UNITY
6- The metaphor for understanding what the facts are: TO WAKE UP
7- The people Mustafa Kemal Ataturk said should be “the most important representatives of human dignity and qualities, defense of nation and freedom of speeech”:YOUTH
8- The ability to make decisions according to correct, meaningful interpretation: COMMON SENSE
9- Property that should never be vandalized or damaged, that belong to all the people: PUBLIC PROPERTY
10-Ideology that depends on non-violence to carry out protests: PACIFISM
11-To damage public property on purpose: VANDALISM
12-Democratic solution box: THE BALLOT BOX
13-A voting method to ask the people what they think about political and social problems: REFERENDUM
14-The person that turns the right into not right and the protester into terrorist: PROVOCATEUR
15-People who live in the same country, share a culture: PEOPLE
16-A long-lived plant that is the symbol of being free: TREE
17-An area covered by treas considered symbol of fraternal unity: FOREST
18-The kids from Beşiktaş with the soul of Don Quixote (or chevalier): ÇARŞI
19-The neighborhood whose name means “to divide” but also unites: TAKSIM (Turkish word play here)
20-A word that means a large area: SQUARE
21-To take steps together to protest an event or an happening: PROTEST MARCH
22-To resist, to not give up: RESISTANCE
23-To find an event or an application as unfair, and not accept it and resist it: PROTEST
24-To be able to decide without undue pressure from outside: FREEDOM
25-The act of supporting each other for shared thoughts and goals: SOLIDARITY
26-What happens when all workers stop working: GENERAL STRIKE
27-To come together for a common goal: ORGANIZE
28-A word that means to rise up, to march: INSURRECTION
29-The best name for a TV station: HALK (PEOPLE — the name of the TV station that covered the protests)
30-The totality of qualities that one should abide by or avoid in occupations like media: ETHICS
31-The thing that is referred to in Article 28th of the Turkish Constitution as “Free and Cannot be Censored”:PRESS
32-The communication medium defined by Nezihe Meriç as “A dragon with a thousand heads”: MEDIA
33-An action that means the same thing as approval: SILENCE
34-Limiting the freedom of press, communication, film or books by government: CENSORSHIP
35-The person who is supposed to learn about an event and write about in various outlets: JOURNALIST
36-The microblog and social network site that has been described as a “curse”: TWITTER
37-The person Mustafa Kemal Ataturk said should “write his/her thoughts freely:” JOURNALIST
38-Person who tries to kiss up to power: BROWN NOSER
39-The state of being able to resist power or injustice but being quiet: COWARDICE
40-The branch that is held on to by people after being abandoned by mainstream media: SOCIAL MEDIA
41-A piece of news that gets published by media outlets but that is not true: FALSE NEWS
42-To make things worse by one’s statements or behavior: CANAK TUTMA (metaphor for enabling)
43-The vehicle for interjecting in protests: TOMA (APC)
44-A word that means “Just Don’t:” AMAN. (Turkish word)
45-A public employee whose name comes from Greek for city, state, civics: POLICE
46-The totality of social laws that means rights: LAW
47-The guide to laws: LAWYER
48-Naked power: VIOLENCE
49-To be held by police forces: DETENTION
50-An obstacle created to block a road or a path: BLOCKADE
51-Something that needs to be done sometimes to lessen tensions: TAKE A STEP BACK
52-The feeling of mercy that should be shared by everyone in all occupations: COMPASSION
53-Word for use of violence without any common sense: DISPROPORTIONATE
54-A weapon that attacks eyes, nose, mouth and lung tissue, a weapon oleosresin capsicum: PEPPER SPRAY
55-What APC’s excrete: PRESSURIZED WATER
56-Democracy breather: GAS MASK
57-The main institution whose principle is “the power belongs unconditionally to the people”: TURKEY’S PARLIAMENT
58-The word that means the same as “Cumhur”: PEOPLE (which is how the president is referred to in Turkey: the
head of the people, Cumhurbaşkanı)
59-To limit rights and freedoms: REPRESSION
60-The word that means to see oneself as better than other people: HUBRIS
61-The person who does not allow freedoms to people they rule: DESPOT
62-The internal court which is what propels people to judge their own actions: CONSCIENCE
63-The arabic-root word which means to “go away from the correct path”: DEVIATE
64-The person who is trying to actualize his/her ideas, thoughts: CAPULCU (LOOTER which is what the Prime Minister called the protesters)
65-A town in Hatay that is famous for its baths: REYHANLI (where a bombing was followed by press censorship)
66-A person that concentrates all political power: DICTATOR
67-A person who serves for money: SERVANT
68-A ruling system in which executive power can act independent of judiciary: PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM (internal Turkish political transition discussion)
69-To voluntarily give up a position: RESIGN
70-The act that makes a person bigger by asking to be forgiven for wrong actions: APOLOGIZE
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“The Public” is a better translation for ‘HALK’ in this context.
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To stand up to oppression knowing the possible results against you: BRAVERY
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Thanks a lot for the translation. This quizshow really knows the understanding of civil disobedience. Very nice.
Excellent post… What is the meaning behing “ÇARŞI”?
It’s a football team(Beşiktaş Çarşı)which can successfully resist to this oppression in Turkey. For ex. they put an ad of an APC for sale on a website.
Well, I mean Çarşı fans dİd it.
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What courage and cleverness! This is the act of a patriot.
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What a brilliant and courageous act of activism!
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Being Turkish, I sometimes watch this show with my parents when I visit them, and I have always liked the host because he is so friendly and humble with his competitors. I now have a new found respect for this man as it was his decision to run these questions, knowing what the consequences of his actions might be.
I salute you Ali İhsan Varol.
Those who make a public stand against oppression for the sake of others: Heroes
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We live in a pre-fascist society and don’t even know it
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What Ali Ihsan Varol did on his tv show is beautiful. It makes the freedom loving heart swell with pride and hope. And deep respect.
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