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Turkish Prime Minister To Critics Of Twitter Ban: I Can't Hear You

"I don't care who it is. I'm not listening," Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told an election rally in Istanbul.

Posted on March 24, 2014, at 2:06 p.m. ET

As Turkey's Twitter ban continues into its fifth day, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan remains unyielding, rebuffing international condemnation while expanding the block to include web servers that initially bypassed the ban.

Murad Sezer / Reuters

Speaking at an election rally for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Istanbul on Monday, Erdogan dismissed Western and domestic criticism of the ban, telling the tens of thousands gathered: "I don't care who it is. I'm not listening."

Murad Sezer / Reuters

Turkey is set to hold municipal elections on March 30. In the run-up, Erdogan and his government have been fighting to stop massive, nearly year-long protests and severe corruption accusations, including alleged evidence from tapes leaked via Twitter.

Stringer / Reuters

On March 20, Erdogan told an election rally in Bursa that he would stop "Twitter shmitter" after elections. That night, invoking a Feb. 4 court order allowing the government to restrict access to inappropriate content, he enacted the ban. Turkish President Abdullah Gul has criticized Erdogan's move.

On Saturday, Turkey expanded its block to include access to Google's public DNS service, which Turkish Twitter users had been using to bypass the microblogging network's domestic ban, the Washington Post reported.

Stringer/Turkey / Reuters

Turkish Twitter has fought Erdogan's ban, taking to Twitter via VPNs and text messages to mock the president. But Erdogan still has significant support among a powerful voter block, including those largely offline and skeptical of social media.

Murad Sezer / Reuters

“The battle isn’t between Internet’s ability to distribute corruption tapes and the government’s ability to suppress them," University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Professor Zeynep Tufekci argued in Medium. "The battle is for the hearts and minds of Erdogan’s own supporters, and whether Erdogan can convince them that social media is a dangerous, uncontrolled, filthy place from which nothing good can come.”