Saudi media portrays FETÖ coup leader as hero
Rarely a day goes by without Saudi Arabian media agencies targeting Turkey on various issues, the latest of which was based on the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), a terrorist group that has caused years of trouble for Turkey, both domestically and internationally. The most recent move came from the daily Al Riyadh, one of the mainstream newspapers in the kingdom, which portrayed FETÖ terrorist leader Fetullah Gülen in a heroic light and accused Turkey of offences with baseless claims.
Following an interview with Jon Pahl, a historian and writer who recently released a biography on the FETÖ head, the daily presented Gülen as an ordinary cleric who happened to be accused of being a terrorist, alleging that FETÖ's coup attempt on July 15, 2016 was fabricated and blatantly overlooked reality.
FETÖ sought to topple the Turkish government and seize power on July 15, 2016. The coup attempt was prevented by loyal military troops, police units and millions of Turkish citizens. Some 250 people, mainly civilians, were killed by putschist soldiers, while more than 2,200 people were injured.
The interview also expresses that Gülen has always had warm feelings for the kingdom and thinks that the Ottoman era was unfair and ruthless toward the Saudis. Although this deliberate distortion of the facts about Turkey by both Pahl and Al Riyadh daily is not a new phenomenon in Saudi media as series of articles and videos have been circulating in the kingdom that aim to defame the country and create a fuss between Turkish and Saudi people, it is interesting how propaganda can spread from pro-government newspapers to the mainstream ones.
"There are many alternatives for Turkey, and they are cheaper," says a video shared by Al Riyadh earlier this week, which is known for its pro-government stance.
The video, shared on the paper's official Twitter account, continues with loads of allegations that target Turkey without offering any evidence to back them up. Dedicated to dampening Saudi tourists' plans to spend holidays in Turkey, the video claims that the country is not safe for Saudi citizens, "neither for tourism nor for investment."
Still, as a response to the video, which has already received widespread reactions, hundreds of Arabic-speaking Twitter users shared their own vacation videos from Turkey to show that Saudis are very welcome in the country. The initial video, which was uploaded on Saturday, was later removed from the daily's social media account.
FETÖ is not the only terrorist group that the kingdom's media outlets openly show support for. Previously, Okaz daily, known for its closeness to the kingdom's government, published a controversial article where the author interviewed a senior figure from the PKK terror organization and termed him the group's "so-called" minister of foreign affairs. The journalist, Abdullah al-Ghadawi, reportedly attempted to interview Cemil Bayık, one of the PKK's leaders, but the group only allowed an interview with Riza Altun. According to the article, the senior PKK terrorist said the terrorist group is present in every country in the Middle East.