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Social media trolls in Turkey attack German parliamentarians over Armenia resolution

Death threats against German parliamentarians on social media in Turkey are raising concerns. Experts looking at threats and hate speech in Turkey say this mob mentality is part of the dominant political culture.

In Turkey, social media accounts can be used to determine the country's news agenda, and can also be used to directly attack specific targets. The latest targets of these accounts have been German parliamentarians of Turkish origin who voted in favor of the recent resolution to recognize the Armenian genocide.

Sources in the prosecutor's office told DW that Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts had been used lately, in particular, to target Cem Özdemir (pictured above), the deputy who presented the resolution to parliament. "We have taken action against the spread of these messages. Other deputies are also receiving their share of such messages," the sources said, adding that especially on Twitter, accounts that made death threats were being followed and disabled.

The foreign ministry will be sharing this information with the German authorities as well as with Twitter administrators. The accounts followed by Ankara that have gone after the parliamentarians by calling them "traitors to the nation" are mainly sending messages saying: "You will pay. You are not a deputy, but a terrorist. We will not allow Turkey to be divided. We will not allow you to live."

Turks protesting against the Armenia resolution in front of the German Embassy in Ankara

Turks protesting against the Armenia resolution in front of the German Embassy in Ankara

'Trolling is the loss of civilization'

"The latest scenes that we have witnessed confirm the validity of the concept of the mob mentality regime in Turkey," said the prominent researcher and author of the book 'Turkey's Mob Mentality Regime,' Tanıl Bora, speaking to DW.

"This is a phenomenon that itself is destroying society and politics. The mob mentality regime in Turkey that I detail in my book is a most blatant loss of civilization. A society where this type of hazing becomes common, where collective shame is absent, and that fails to become indignant, loses its character as a society," Bora said.

"Mob culture, together with the media, victimizes and creates an accomplice," said Rasit Kaya, professor of politics and communications at Middle East Technical University. "This culture is even present in a simple event of theft, in the streets and even in front of a courthouse. Governments, politicians, and political parties can be finished off on social media. Even a "banal incident" is being pumped up to create excitement, and this feeds into the mob culture. Even if this is a crime, it is being done and the follow-up of these events is left to the reader and the viewer. When the public's reaction is put on display, predispositions in society become very clear," Kaya said.

According to Kaya, the media is playing a direct role in normalizing violence and mob culture. He also believes that the media normalizes events that society actually should reject.

Armenians In Berlin welcomed the vote in the German Bundestag

Armenians in Berlin welcomed the vote in the German Bundestag

'Crassness has become the norm'

Istanbul Bilgi University psychotherapist Murat Paker argues that "the mob culture, which clearly reveals itself on social media, is a part of the dominant political culture."

Paker believes this is closely related to education on Turkish nationalism and the lack of critical thought. "The official ideology has been taught in a dogmatic manner for generations. This is a society of memorization. Forget about learning - people don't even want to learn. The hardware and software of society creates, advances and spreads the official ideology. If this hardware detects a petition, an article, a resolution or a movement that can break the program, it steps in. Social media can be the easiest, most direct vehicle for this. The dispute with Germany over the genocide recognition is an example of all of this. Social media, which is normally used for socializing, is used here to destroy those who are different in Turkey; it is trying to create an anti-social structure. Messages on social media show that in Turkey, crassness has become the norm. Everyone can say, unconsciously, 'I will kill you'," Paker said.

According to Paker, this unconsciousness in Turkey has one of two possible conclusions: "society's annihilation" or "hitting the bottom and subsequently latching onto a democratic way out."

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