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ISTANBUL - The Associated Press was the latest international media organization to report on the huge tax fine on Doğan Media Group, or DMG. According to the AP's report, the dispute "pits one of the country's richest men, a staunch secularist, against the prime minister, who leads an Islamic-oriented government."
"Why is he attacking me? I'm not a political party," AP quoted Aydın Doğan. Dogan's lawyers are fighting a $500 million fine by authorities who allege tax evasion on the sale of a Dogan TV station’s shares to German publisher Axel Springer AG. Dogan said there was no wrongdoing and insisted the investigation was politically motivated because pro-government media have not come under scrutiny ahead of the local elections on March 29.
"He wants to turn us into other media groups that support him ... but we are not like them," Doğan said in an interview with the AP.
The AP recalls in its report that Doğan's media have reported on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's children’s business dealings, and the allegations that funds were illegally channeled from a Germany-based Turkish charity to Turkey's Islamic-oriented ruling party.
Doğan said his media group's "100 percent" secular stance may have upset some "fanatical anti-secularists" in Erdoğan's circle.
"I don't have any fights with religious beliefs. I have issues with fanatical Muslims who claim un-Islamic things and say they are purely Islamic," he told the AP, citing accusations that women who don't wear Islamic headscarves or swim in public places are sinners.
"If he continues like this, we'll continue our editorial line without any concession," Doğan said. "Polarization could become stronger. This is not what we want, but it may happen."