Police used force to disperse people protesting in İstanbul over the weekend against an amendment to the Internet law passed by Parliament that heavily restricts Internet freedom, although the legislation requires President Abdullah Gül’s approval before it goes into effect.

Many protesters had been communicating via social media and congregated around seven in the evening on İstiklal Street in Beyoğlu. The crowd of people, who wanted to march towards Taksim Square, was blocked; when some protestors threw fireworks at the police, they fired water cannons back at protestors. Although a second water cannon vehicle also started to shoot water at the protesters, the police were unable to totally disperse the crowd. Then, the police fired tear gas at the protesters.

A large number of people on İstiklal Street during the police action, some of them children and disabled individuals who seemingly got caught up in the skirmish, suffered the side effects of the tear gas. A couple caught with their baby in the skirmish was also affected by the tear gas, and the family was taken from the scene by a police car. A person who worked in a store on İstiklal Street and a woman who had just been passing by at the time fainted from the tear gas. They, along with a number of others, were taken by ambulance to a hospital.

In a report on Sunday, the pro-government Star daily described those protesting the amendment as a “porno lobby”; the report was harshly criticized on Twitter. Mahir Zeynalov, a journalist for Today’s Zaman who left Turkey for his native Azerbaijan on Friday morning following a government decision to deport him for posting tweets deemed critical of the government, wrote on his Twitter account, “Can this paper, which is exploiting people’s religious sentiments, legitimize a law that introduces censorship on the Internet?”

In accordance with the controversial amendment to the law regulating Internet news portals and websites, which was approved last week in Parliament, the head of the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) will be authorized, on his own initiative and without court approval, to block access to a webpage in the event that there is a concern regarding a violation of the right to privacy…. see more

source: todayszaman