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
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