Viral YouTube commentator Diamond Tema forced to leave Turkey after threats of arrest

Albanian-Turkish YouTuber and researcher Diamond Tema, known for his videos on religion and philosophy, has been forced to leave Turkey following online threats of arrest over a debate on Islam he took part in.

Tema, who has more than 870,000 subscribers on the video-sharing platform, blasted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party over its alleged Islamist leanings.

In the debate, he also criticised opposition parties, such as the main opposition Republican People’s Party and IYI Parti, or Good Party.

In a video titled “He who tells the truth will be sued in nine villages”, made public on Monday, Tema, who hails from an Albanian family that settled in Turkey when he was a child, said that he would not be “defeated” by those who targeted him.

“The next time I come to Turkey, if they want, they can arrest me and put me in jail; I can go to court, I can testify then. No problem at all. But I didn’t want to experience this just now, when this is pushed against me, when everyone wants me to die, when everyone wants me to be thrown out,” Tema explained.

“I don’t want my photos of me in handcuffs to be shared on the internet,” he said, referring to far-right internet trolls calling for his arrest and even his death.

Tema described his departure from Turkey in stark terms: “I don’t want to make them happy. I don’t want them to say, ‘Did you see that? Look what has become of the heathen’. I won’t give them that pleasure.”

‘Insulting a section of the public’

Tema received the threats of possible arrest after taking part in a discussion about Sharia law together with another Turkish social media phenomenon, Asrin Tok, on the YouTube channel Yer6 Film.

“An investigation was initiated against the person named Diamond Tema, who insulted our Prophet, for the crimes of insulting a section of the public and insulting religious values regulated in paragraphs 216/2 and 3 of the Turkish Penal Code,” Aslan Değirmenci, Digital Media Coordinator of the Turkish Presidency’s Communication Directorate, said on his X account on Sunday evening following the Yer6 broadcast.

Değirmenci stated that an access ban was requested for the YouTube channel.

Tema said he might try to return to Turkey in four to five months.

“(I don’t care) whatever happens next. The incident will have cooled down and no one will care. But I won’t be defeated by these guys on this issue. There is no justice, there is no law, unfortunately there is no secularism … It’s all just on paper. I will not be defeated by their order and system,” he said.

“I am defending secularism and the (Turkish) republic against a man who says that Sharia must come to this country. I am defending this country,” Tema concluded.

“Today they … silence me. Tomorrow it will be your turn.”

Death threats over differing views

After he published the video, Tema also shared a number of death threats he received from radical circles on his X account.

Thousands of Turkish X users declared their support for Tema, and the hashtag “#DiamondTemaYalnızDeğildir” (#DiamondTemaIsNotAlone), which they started on Sunday evening, rose to the top of the list of trending topics in Turkey.

Tema also shared messages he received from unidentified Telegram users, some of whom were seemingly willing to kill him because of his remarks during the program.

“They are the epitome of tolerance who look for ways of violence when they cannot respond,” Tema said. “They have already started to organise.”

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