Turkey: Gollum experts decide if Erdogan insulted

Court 'experts' examine Lord of the Rings character, to decide if doctor who compared him and Erdogan should be jailed 2 years.

Ari Yashar,

Gollum from Lord of the Rings
Gollum from Lord of the Rings
Reuters

Turkey once again showed it can't take a joke, as a Turkish court ordered a panel of experts to assess the character of Gollum from The Lord of the Rings - to decide whether a doctor who compared President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the figure should be jailed.

Dr. Bilgin Ciftci of Aydin is accused of "insulting" Erdogan by posting images online comically comparing Erdogan and Gollum, the fantasy creature with a personality split between good and evil who became a fan favorite for pining over the One Ring - better known as "my precious."

The experts will determine whether the comparison was an insult based on completely unclear criteria, at which point the court will decide whether or not to throw the physician in jail for up to two years, reports the Turkish Today's Zman.

Do you see the resemblance?

Ciftci, the doctor whose joke was appallingly poorly received, was expelled from the Public Health Institution of Turkey (THSK) in October for sharing the images.

As noted he now faces up to two years in jail, but the court was forced to postpone the decision until next February 13, after the doctor's lawyer got the chief judge and the prosecutor to admit that they hadn't seen The Lord of the Rings movies - the judge in his defense said he has seen "parts of them."

Now two academics, two behavioral scientists or psychologists and an "expert on cinema and television productions" are to determine whether being compared to Gollum constitutes an insult.

In court, Ciftci argued that Gollum is not a bad character, insisting that he did not insult Erdogan.

The doctor has a case, given that Gollum is widely seen as a character struggling between his vestiges of good intentions from his days as Smeagol, and his warped power hungry alter ego of Gollum. In fact, at the end of the films based on J.R.R. Tolkien's classic novels, it is Gollum who steps in as Frodo falters in his mission and is poised to pocket the One Ring, and thanks to Gollum's desire for the ring it is ultimately destroyed.

However, it would seem highly unlikely that the "experts" will take such a favorable take on the generally dark and slimy character that has a tendency for trying to strangle those who get in his way.

"Insulting the head of state" is a serious crime in Turkey; between August 2014 and March 2015 BBC reports that no less than 105 Turks were indicted for the crime and eight were formally arrested.

Turkey has cracked down on Twitter as well, filing 477 requests to remove content between July and December 2014, a figure marking more than five times that of any other country and a 156% increase on the first half of 2014. It has also seriously cracked down on the media, with Reporters Without Borders ranking it 149 out of 180 countries in its press freedom index.




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