Over the weekend, Turkey and Ivory Coast both suffered attacks from Islamic militants, resulting in the loss of multiple lives. On Sunday, Reuters reports that gunmen from al-Qaeda’s North African branch killed 16 people, including four Europeans, at a beach resort town in the Ivory Coast. While Business Insider reports that on the same day, an explosion occurred at a crowded transport hub in Ankara, killing at least 34 people and wounding 125.
According to Reuters, President Alassane Ouattara gave details of the attack on a visit to the site. “Six attackers came onto the beach in Bassam this afternoon. We have 14 civilians and two special forces soldiers who were, unfortunately, killed,” he said. Also, the Ivory Coast’s Interior Minister, Hamed Bakayoko, has said foreign citizens from France, Germany, Burkina Faso, Mali and Cameroon were among the victims in the attack.
After both incidents occurred, social media awareness began in both countries, as individuals and news agencies shared details of the events on various social media platforms. However, the Turkish government did not appear too pleased with this. Apparently, Reuters reports that, an Ankara court has placed a ban on Facebook and Twitter in the country after images of the explosion surfaced online via those platforms. Although an Islamic state, Turkey is currently a democratic and constitutional republic, like the Ivory Coast, and it is expected that its citizens are allowed to use social media freely for various reasons, including staying informed.
African countries have continuously been referred to as the backward states, with no regard whatsoever for the rights of their citizens and their leaders have been painted as disrespectful of fundamental human rights. Now, what can be said of the Turkish government in this situation?
According to the Mo Ibrahim Index of Good Governance, among all 54 African countries surveyed, the Ivory Coast has shown the highest rate of improvement since 2011. However, in the past, the Ivorian government has been confronted with allegations of intimidation of journalists, in an attempt to control print media in the country and since 2012, the government has been actively involved in social media activities.
Social media platforms have become a necessary part of daily life for a lot of people, to the extent that some earn their living via these applications. A 2015 report, as compiled by Esra Dogramaci and Damian Radcliffe from the Digital News Report, says that social media is a popular news destination for online users in urban Turkey as well as a source for their entertainment, sports, and lifestyle needs.
The report also reveals that the ability to use social media for whatever purpose in Turkey remains volatile. There are examples of past occurrences mirroring the present, for instance, in 2015, Turks could not adequately respond on their social media platforms to a terror attack that occurred on October 10, 2015 where nearly 100 people were killed in a bombing incident in central Ankara, as they found their access to Twitter and Facebook hampered. The report concludes by saying that although social media is not going away in Turkey, the attempts by the government to control it are a constant feature within the country.