Twitter censors journalist over false filings by anti-Semitic jihadist cleric

Nurettin Yildiz


A jihadist and anti-Semitic Turkish cleric who called for armed jihad and encouraged the chopping off of arms and legs of critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan launched a string of abusive copyright strikes and succeeded in getting the Twitter account of a critical journalist suspended.

Abdullah Bozkurt, a journalist and also the director of the Nordic Research and Monitoring Network, was hit with multiple filings of false DMCA takedown requests by Nurettin Yıldız, an extremist preacher who has often been described as the family cleric of Erdoğan because of his frequent keynote speaking engagements at both youth events organized by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and conferences and lectures sponsored by the Turkey Youth Foundation (TUGVA), run by Erdoğan’s family.


The Twitter postings by Bozkurt showed Yıldız saying in shared videos that the greatest jihad is against the great enemy, the Jews, a condemned race, and that Jews and Christians are nothing and that they are not equal to Muslims. One video showed him calling for jihad and saying that democracy belongs to the infidels and may be used by Muslims only as a means to reach their ultimate goals. In another one, he said Muslims should vote in democracies as a “deceit” to achieve what they really want.


Nurettin Yildiz


In footage shared by Bozkurt, Yıldız spoke to the Uyghur Istiqlal TV, based in Istanbul, and called for armed jihad not only in China’s autonomous Xinjiang region but all over the world and described China as a nation of savages, worse than the Jews. His comments on how Muslims should react to New Year’s celebrations was shared by the journalist in the wake of a major attack by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Istanbul where a gunman killed 39 people in a popular Istanbul nightclub on January 1, 2017.


Turkish police officer who was radicalized by Yildiz killed Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov in December 2016.


In other video footage shared by Bozkurt, the cleric was heard saying that members of the Gülen movement must be executed, hanged and that their hands and arms must be cut off. He asked the US-based Turkish Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen, who leads the movement, to repent for his sins and condemn Jews and Christians. Gülen has been a vocal critic of the Erdoğan regime for corruption and the Turkish government’s aiding and abetting of armed jihadist groups in Syria, Libya and other places.


When the Erdoğan government started attacking Saudi Arabia over a host of policy differences, Erdoğan’s cleric Yıldız jumped on the bandwagon as well and announced that Muslims have a much bigger problem with Saudi Arabia than Israel. In one video from December 2016, Yıldız was seen whipping up the crowd in the face of the fall of Aleppo in Syria, from where radical jihadists were forced to move out after a Russian campaign. Another video subjected to a DMCA takedown showed the Turkish cleric meeting with Zakir Naik, an Indian preacher banned by India, the UK and Canada for his radical views.

In the case concerning the assassinated Russian diplomat in 2016, the evidence in the indictment showed that hitman Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, a 22-year-old riot police officer, frequented lectures given by Yıldız’s own NGO, the Social Fabric Foundation (Sosyal Doku Vakfı). Altıntaş was in contact with this volunteer group starting in 2014, attending study circles led by Yıldız, and quickly became radicalized.

Yıldız is no ordinary cleric. He is very close to Erdoğan’s family, and the government provides him with VIP treatment when he travels the country to deliver his poisonous sermons. This man publicly advocated the marriage of 6-year-old girls at a conference on January 23, 2013 and got away with it despite a criminal complaint filed against him that was later dropped by the prosecutor under government pressure in March 2015. He was the keynote speaker at a summer camp that was run by Erdoğan’s family foundation in August 2016, attended by 78 young men in a secluded wooded area of Istanbul’s Tuzla district.


Nurettin Yildiz gives lectures at events organized by the Turkey Youth Foundation (TUGVA), which is run by Erdoğan’s family.


Yıldız himself admitted his connections to jihadist groups in Syria in a letter he wrote right after the leader of Ahrar al-Sham, Hassan Abboud, also known by the nom de guerre Abu Abdullah al-Hamawi, was killed in September 2014 in a suicide attack on a high-level meeting in Syria’s Idlib province. In the letter, dated Sept. 10, 2014, Yıldız recalls how he made a trip to Idlib to meet Abu Abdullah and how they discussed the jihadist fight against the infidels. He described the killing of Abu Abdullah as “a great loss to the cause,” regretting that his invitation to host him in Istanbul had not come to fruition.


Yıldız meets with the leader of Ahrar al-Sham, Hassan Abboud.


Over a dozen filings by Yıldız’s lawyer Ahmet Emin Şahingöz on behalf of cleric’s foundation, Sosyal Doku Vakfı, sought to remove the scandalous video footage shared by the journalist, who wanted to expose him for his extremist views that attacked Jews, Christians and critics of the Erdoğan government. The false filings on Twitter were accomplished through DMCA takedown requests that were originally intended to protect copyright owners by allowing them to issue takedowns on content that has been shown to infringe on their intellectual property. The DMCA, short for Digital Millennium Copyright Act and signed into law in 1998 in the United States, is the primary Internet copyright law that covers US firms such as Twitter, YouTube and other social media companies.

The DMCA allows exceptions to copyright infringement in a number of cases such as fair use, in which copyrighted material can be used for the purposes of education, parody, review or commentary. However, false claims on Twitter have been issued in the past for purposes of silencing critical journalists when large Internet firms often use automated solutions rather than human review of such filings in order to handle the large volume of filings and to protect themselves under the DMCA. The automated responses do not distinguish between fair use and piracy and allow abusers to manipulate the system at the expense of the victims.

The takedown requests on Twitter by a radical imam and his associates show how this system on Twitter is open to abuse, Bozkurt noted. “This has nothing to do with piracy but rather investigative journalism under the fair use exception of the DMCA that was done in the interest of the public’s right to know what this fanatic is up to.” Reporting on a man who radicalized so many including the assassin of Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov, who was murdered by an al-Qaeda-linked Turkish police officer, is not copyright infringement, he added.

Bozkurt said he has appealed the suspension with Twitter and filed a counterclaim in response to the takedown notice.

The 14 twitter postings by the journalist that the cleric wanted removed include the following:

  • #Erdogan’s family cleric Nurettin Yıldız rules out interfaith dialogue, says Jews & Christians are nothing & they are not equal to Muslims
  • Nurettin Yıldız, cleric associated with #Erdogan’s family, says greatest Jihad is against greater enemy which is Jews, a condemned race.
  • 1) #Turkey’s #Erdogan apears to have enlisted the help of Zakir Naik, Indian preacher banned by India, UK, Canada for radical views.
  • 2) President #Erdogan’s family cleric Nurettin Yıldız who is affiliated with Jihadist groups in #Syria received Zakir Naik in #Turkey
  • #Turkey #Erdogan family cleric Nureddin Yıldız calls for Jihad, says democracy belongs to infidels, may be used by Muslims only as a means.
  • #Turkey #Erdogan family cleric Nureddin Yıldız calls for Jihad, says democracy belongs to infidels, may be used by Muslims only as a means.
  • #Erdogan’s family cleric Nureddin Yıldız, supporter of Jihadists in #Syria, reaches out to Turkish youth in #Germany via teleconference.
  • #Turkey: #Erdogan’s family cleric Nurettin Yıldız says Muslims should vote in democracy as a “deceit” to achieve what they really want.
  • #Erdogan’s cleric Nurettin Yıldız who radicalized killer of #Russia envoy also mobilized youth in 2010 to join flotilla as jihad for death.
  • Just like #ISIL, Nurettin Yıldız, radical preacher close to #Erdogan says #Gulen members must be executed, hanged, their hands/arms cut-off
  • Radical cleric Nurettin Yıldız whose preaching radicalized killer of #Russia envoy, calls on #Gulen to repent & condemn Jews & Christians
  • #Turkey president #Erdogan’s family cleric Nureddin Yıldız says “We have much bigger problem with Saudi Arabia than Israel”
  • #Turkey pres. #Erdogan’s family cleric Nureddin Yıldız talks to Uyghur Istiqlal TV, describes #China as nation of savages, worse than Jews.
  • Nureddin Yıldız, #Erdogan’s family Imam, talks to #Uyghur TV, urges Uyghurs to do Jihad not only against #China but also Jews & others.
  • Pro-#Erdogan cleric Nureddin Yıldız who radicalized killer of #Russia envoy called on Muslims to prepare reacting to New Year celebrations



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