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Turkey bans dating shows, fires 4,000 officials under emergency

Updated April 29, 2017

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Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he delivers a speech at a conference in Istanbul. ─ AP
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he delivers a speech at a conference in Istanbul. ─ AP

Turkey on Saturday fired almost 4,000 public officials and imposed a ban on TV dating shows, in new decrees issued under the state of emergency imposed after last year's failed coup.

The moves were the latest tough action by the authorities following President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's victory in last month's referendum on enhancing his powers.

They were also announced as Turkey controversially slapped a ban on Wikipedia earlier on Saturday morning.

The total of 3,974 dismissed officials includes more than 1,000 people working with the justice ministry and over 1,000 staff employed by the army, said the decree, which included the name of every fired official.

Those fired from the air force included over 100 pilots, it added. Almost 500 academics working for state institutions were also dismissed.

The dismissals came after Turkey on April 26 detained more than 1,000 people and suspended over 9,100 police in a vast new crackdown against alleged supporters of the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen blamed for the failed July 15 coup bid.

An already nine-month state of emergency in place since the coup bid has seen a total of 47,000 people arrested and prompted fears the crackdown is being used to go after all opponents of Erdogan.

Gulen denies being behind the coup but the authorities argue the purges are needed to wipe out his “virus” from society.

In a separate decree issued at the same time, Turkey also banned hugely popular television dating shows, a move that been mooted for months by the government.

“In radio and television broadcasting services, such programs in which people are introduced to find a friend.... cannot be permitted,” said the text of the decree.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said in March that the ban was in the pipeline, arguing the shows do not fit in with Turkish traditions and customs.

“There are some strange programs that would scrap the institution of family, take away its nobility and sanctity,” Kurtulmus said at the time.

“God willing, in the near future, we will most likely remedy this with an emergency decree, “he said.

Opponents of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government frequently voice fears that Turkey is sliding toward conservative Islam.

But AKP supporters have said that dating shows receive thousands of complaints every year and the ban is in the public interest.