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Turkish editors sacked after publishing 'Erdo-Gone' photo

Government-funded 1453 Istanbul Culture and Arts magazine closed down after publishing graffiti reading 'Erdo-Gone Insallah Masaalah'
The graffiti in the 1453 Istanbul Culture and Arts magazine (supplied)

A Turkish government-funded magazine was shut on Tuesday and three editorial staff sacked after the publication of a photograph that contained wall graffiti featuring the words "Erdo-Gone insallah masaallah" - god willing.

The 1453 Istanbul Culture and Arts magazine published the photo in its latest edition as part of a feature story on a documentary featuring cats in Istanbul.

The graffiti appears to be some form of word play and a reference to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The magazine is funded by the Istanbul municipality and printed by the municipality's Kultur AS publishing firm.

The magazine was withdrawn from shelves, shut down and three staff members were fired.

The front cover of the magazine (supplied)

The magazine's managing editor, head of news and the relevant editor were sacked. They have also had criminal complaints filed against them.

Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas called the publication of the photograph a "mean and immoral" act.

"What we saw in the magazine is not something that is acceptable. It is completely mean and immoral. We have cancelled their contracts and closed the magazine. And of course we will file a criminal complaint," Topbas told reporters.  

"I see it as a very sad incident. I am sad because I have noticed that some provocative actions against us occur from time to time ever since I took up my post in 2004. Of late there have been serious provocations against me and the municipality," he said.

Topbas suggested plots were being laid and he and the municipality were being targeted by certain unknown centres.

Topbas's son-in-law was arrested and imprisoned after last July's failed coup bid for alleged involvement in the Fethullah Gulen movement. Turkish authorities hold Gulen and his supporters responsible for the coup attempt.  

He was released earlier this month on medical grounds.

His release was also controversial after it emerged that it was based on a report from a private hospital and not a state-run medical institution.

No information was available as to where and when the photo with the Erdo-Gone graffiti was taken.

On 10 May, American neo-conservative writer Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon official who is known for fierce anti-Erdogan articles, tweeted in Turkish asking whether it was safe for Erdogan to leave Turkey at this time and whether he would be able to return to Turkey after a foreign visit to China and the United States.

Erdogan's lawyers have filed many lawsuits against individuals and publications over the years claiming defamation against their client.

In the immediate aftermath of July's coup attempt Erdogan had vowed to drop all lawsuits initiated on his behalf for insulting him. But that proved short lived and suits have been filed since.

In the most recent case, a Turkish doctor, Bilgin Ciftci, was acquitted by a court for posting a series of photos side by side of Erdogan and Lord of the Rings character Gollum in various poses.

Ciftci was being tried under article 301 of the Turkish penal code, which is used to prosecute cases involving the "public denigration of Turkish officials".