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Turkey is still reverberating from the failed coup attempt on July 15. For President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it means a government purge of thousands or people and the detention of thousands more. It also means a crackdown on the press, including  Turkey's lively satirical press.  

Turkish President Erdogan (left) believes he can rid his country of the influence of exiled Turkish Mulsim cleric Fethullah Gulen (right) through purges and arrests in the wake of the attempted coup. Gulen's response: "You can cut the branches but the tree belongs to me." 

Koksal Ciftci, Turkey, July 31, 2016

"This is one of the funniest societies when it comes to political cartoons and comics," says Guyer. "Turkey has one of the most advanced comic scenes in the world, probably the third largest after Japan and the United States. It has a half-dozen weekly comic magazines, plus political cartoons are just huge in the daily newspapers, online, Facebook, Twitter." 

The 'Special Coup Edition' cover of LeMan, a popular Turkish satirical magazine. It's a gambling metaphor. The left hand (coup plotters) says: "I see you the soldiers." The right hand (Erdogan) says "I'll see you and raise you the 50 percent", a reference to what Erdogan has often told his opponents, that he can't control the 50 percent of Turks who support him. After the July 15th attempt coup started, Erdogan called upon his supporters to go into the street. And they did. 

Courtesy: Jonathan Guyer

"It was a really funny cover." says Guyer, who haswritten about LeMan and its testy relationship with Erdogan and censorship. "It was actually banned quite quickly. Police went door to door to shops confiscating it because it suggested a kind of bigger scheme or conspiracy."

Since Turkey became a republic in 1923, there have been repeated coups by the military. This time people took to the streets (at the request of President Erdogan) and prevented the coup from succeeding. 

Yasar Ucar, Turkey, July 25, 2016

Guyer spoke to a number of cartoonists during his month in Istanbul. "Every cartoonist I interviewed in Turkey told me that 2016, irrespective of the recent coup and crackdown, has been the most difficult year for cartoonists on record." Guyer says about 1,500 people, including cartoonists, celebrities and journalists, are under investigation for insulting the president.

Photo of Turkish cartoonist Musa Kart holding a cartoon that prompted a law suit from President Erdogan who charged the cartoonist with insult and slander. The cartoon depicted the Turkish president as a hologram keeping a watchful eye over a robbery. Kart could have faced 9 years behind bars but an international campaign of solidarity from other cartoonists helped win his aquittal. 

Jonathan Guyer

Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen (left) may have influenced Turkey's military to attempt a coup, but President Erdogan (right) is using that suspicion to round up everyone associated with the US-based Turkish politician.

Nuhsal Isin, Turkey

"We want the death penalty," chants the crowd, mirroring President Erdogan's call to reinstate a policy of executions to punish the coup planners. Erdogan responds: "There we go! Come to me with democratic requests like this one."

Sefer Selvi, Evrensel, Turkey, July 16, 2016

The cartoonists Guyer spoke to told him that they have experience with coups, especially the one in 1980. After that coup, LeMan's editor Tuncay Akgünwas on the run for 10 years before resurfacing in 1991 to start his current satirical magazine. Other publications were shut down. "So as frightening as it might seem for us as observers in America and Europe, in Turkey this is kind of what comes with the job for illustrators and satirists." 

Guyer says attempts by the Turkish government to shut down satire have failed. "The cartoonists are not softening their radical message. They're acting as ombudsmen and holding the government to account."

The Turkish military attempted a coup, the people fought back, and democracy was restored, but it's not the same.  

Izel Rozental, Salom, Turkey, July 20, 2016

From PRI's The World ©2016 PRI