BBC News puts words in the Turkish president’s mouth

The BBC News website’s main article about the June 28th terror attack in Turkey – “Istanbul Ataturk airport attack: 41 dead and more than 230 hurt” – includes the following:

Erdogan statement

Interestingly, two earlier versions of the article informed readers that:

“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the attack, calling for a “joint fight” against terrorism.”

The word ‘terrorism’ was then removed and the article was amended to read as above.

So did the Turkish president really use the BBC favoured euphemistic terminology “militant groups” just hours after his country (and its important tourism industry) had been hit by a major terror attack?

Not according to the Guardian:

“President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on all governments, especially in the west, to join forces in taking a “firm stand against terror”.

“The bombs that exploded in Istanbul today could have gone off at any airport in any city around the world. Make no mistake: for terrorist organisations there is no difference between Istanbul and London, Ankara and Berlin, Izmir and Chicago or Antalya and Rome.

“Unless all government and the entire mankind join forces in the fight against terrorism, much worse things than what we fear to imagine today will come true.””

And not according to the New York Times:

“President Recep Tayyip Erdogan noted that the bombing came during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and he called for global unity in the fight against terrorism.

“Despite paying a heavy price, Turkey has the power, determination and capacity to continue the fight against terrorism until the end,” Mr. Erdogan said in a statement.

Mr. Erdogan added: “The bombs that exploded in Istanbul today could have gone off at any airport in any city around the world. Make no mistake: For terrorist organizations, there is no difference between Istanbul and London, Ankara and Berlin, Izmir and Chicago, or Antalya and Rome.””

And not according to Reuters:

“President Tayyip Erdogan said the attack should serve as a turning point in the global fight against terrorism, which he said had “no regard for faith or values”.”Istanbul attack main art

But maybe all three of those media organisations (and many others) got it wrong and – as claimed by the self-styled “standard-setter for international journalism” – Erdogan really did use the term “militant groups”? The answer to that can be found at the official website of the Turkish presidency.

“…President Erdoğan said: “However, I would like to remind that today’s attack targeted not only 79 million Turkish citizens but also 7.5 billion human beings around the world. Due to the treacherous nature of terrorism, the bombs that exploded in Istanbul today could have gone off at any airport in any city around the world. Make no mistake: For terrorist organizations, there is no difference between Istanbul and London, Ankara and Berlin, Izmir and Chicago or Antalya and Rome. Unless all government and the entire mankind join forces in the fight against terrorism, much worse things than what we fear to imagine today will come true.”

“I hope the Ataturk Airport attack will serve as a turning point in the world, particularly for the Western countries, for a joint struggle against terror organizations,” President Erdoğan said…” 

The BBC’s editorial guidelines on Language when Reporting Terrorism specifically state:

“…we should not change the word “terrorist” when quoting someone else, but we should avoid using it ourselves”

Will the BBC justify its patent distortion of the Turkish president’s comments (which, incidentally, led to the word ‘terror’ being completely absent from this entire report after an earlier reference to ‘a terrorist’ in a quote from the Turkish Justice minister was also removed) by claiming that it was not quoting him directly, but paraphrasing his remarks?

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