Elif Shafak on Trial in Turkey

The Turkish novelist Elif Shafak will face charges of “insulting the Turkish identity” this week in Istanbul. Just a week ago the British artist Michael Dickinson was charged with “insulting the dignity of the Prime Minister“, so it’s probably not a good time to be saying or doing anything too radical in the country at the moment.

In her novel “The Bastard of Istanbul”, a character refers to the Armenian deaths in 1915 as a “genocide”. The Nobel prize winning Turkish author Orhan Pamuk faced similar charges not so long ago.

Elif Shafak was quoted as saying “Article 301 has been used by ultranationalists as a weapon to silence political voices in Turkey. In that sense, my case is not unusual. But for the first time, they are trying to bring a novel into court. The way they are trying to penetrate the domain of art and literature is quite new, and quite disturbing.”

Novelist on trial in Turkey over words of fictional character
“The case is being watched closely in Europe. Turkey has pledged to revamp its laws to bring them in line with European standards of human rights. But section 301 of the penal code, which makes it an offence to insult Turkish identity, remains and is being used in more than 60 cases against Turkish writers and journalists.” CBC
>> Turkish Art News

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. Let’s try to look on the bright side here. Freedom of expression has never been an automatic right in civil society; rather, it has been the result of long historical struggle. The types of laws against free expression in Turkey now are not unlike laws in Western European nations in recent centuries. What we see in Turkey is artists and writers challenging the system, taking risks, struggling for freedom of expression. Without this struggle, they won’t get these rights. Of course, the oppressive laws are terrible, but it is heartening to see people standing up against them. In the West we inherited our rights of free expression from past generations, so we take them for granted.

  2. Yeah, good point Karl.

    We forget how backward western countries were not so long ago. We still are backward in many ways, but that’s another story.

  3. The issue of E.U. membership is also an interesting point. Compare to America, which invades countries to “democratize” them. The E.U. influences its neighbors’ internal policy by offering the prospect of joining the community. More humane, and probably more effective.


  1. […] popular Turkish novelist Elif Shafak has had charges of “insulting Turkish identity” dropped. It was decided that the […]

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