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Turkey: Arrest of Orient Channel Director, Journalist

Ahmed Rihawi, the director and media figure of the Orient TV channel, was arrested by Turkish authorities on Wednesday, according to Baladi News.
Turkey: Arrest of Orient Channel Director, Journalist

Orient TV has reported that Ahmed Rihawi, the director and media figure of the channel, was arrested by Turkish authorities on Wednesday. This comes after Rihawi expelled a Turkish guest live on air during the broadcast of the program “Details” (Tafaseel).

According to a Facebook post by Orient TV, the Turkish authorities arrested Alaa Farhat, the director of Orient, and Ahmed Rihawi, the presenter of the program “Details,” following a complaint filed by Oktay Yilmaz, a Turkish political analyst, after the episode that aired on Wednesday night.

Activists have circulated a video on social networking sites from the ” Details ” episode on YouTube, revealing how the argument between Rihawi and the Turkish analyst, Yilmaz, escalated. During the episode, Rihawi asked Yilmaz about the alleged violations committed by the Turkish gendarmerie on the border between Syria and Turkey after killing three people.

Shortly after the question, the Turkish guest said, “I am surprised by these words, fabrications, and attacks on Turkey.” He asked, “By what right do you attack Turkey this way? “. 

Opposition Condemns Violations of Turkish Police against Syrians on Border

The argument began between the journalist and his guest, and the latter claimed that he “did not know the content of the dialogue” before Rihawi asked him to leave the studio. 

“Either you discuss respectfully and politely or leave the episode,” Rihawi said, after which the Turkish guest pulled the presenter’s papers off the table, tore them up and left the studio. 

Syrian activists and journalists stood in solidarity with Rihawi and Farhat in social media posts and called on the Turkish authorities to release them. 

According to Orient’s statement, at the beginning of the episode, after the introduction was read, Oktay Yilmaz verbally attacked his colleague Rihawi and made racist comments directed at him and Syrians in general. Yilmaz used shallow and offensive language that the Syrian and Turkish audiences disapproved of.

Orient has expressed its trust in the justice and impartiality of the Turkish judiciary and is awaiting the release of its colleagues, Farhat and Rihawi, as soon as possible. The statement also demands that the Turkish guest who made racist and insulting comments directed at the Syrian people and physically and verbally attacked Rihawi during the episode be held accountable for his actions.

The show had spoken about the torturing and killing of two Syrians over the weekend by Turkish border guards at the Bab al-Hawa crossing, which angered Yilmaz. 

In video footage, Yilmaz is seen confronting al-Rihawi, as the host kept asking the guest to leave the studio. 

“Who are you to accuse the Turkish state of murder? You sit in our country, eat from it, then slander us?” Yilmaz says to the TV presenter. 

It is not clear on what basis the Syrian journalists were arrested or how long they will remain in custody. 

Syrians took to social media to express their support and solidarity with Orient and the two journalists and slammed Yilmaz’s racist remarks. 

Since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011, Turkey has hosted over 3 million Syrian refugees, and Ankara has been directly involved in the war

But anti-refugee sentiment has been on the rise in recent years, with many Turks blaming Syrians for Turkey’s economic problem and politicians using the refugee issue as a political tool. 

Turkish authorities have, in recent years, forcibly returned hundreds of Syrians to Syria in violation of international law. 

After the powerful earthquake last month devastated large swathes of southeast Turkey and northwest Syria, Syrians in Turkey were accused of looting based on unfounded reports. Some Syrians became the victims of violent attacks. 

Turkish authorities later said that thousands of Syrians had “voluntarily” returned to their country following the quake.


This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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