Free Speech on Trial in Turkey ; the Case of Writer Orhan Pamuk Is Being Watched as a Test of Political Reforms

By Scott Peterson writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, December 16, 2005 | Go to article overview

Free Speech on Trial in Turkey ; the Case of Writer Orhan Pamuk Is Being Watched as a Test of Political Reforms


Scott Peterson writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Like one of his own characters, trapped between liberal yearnings and the reality of an unforgiving state, Turkey's most celebrated novelist, Orhan Pamuk, is slated to appear in court Friday to face charges of "insulting Turkish identity."

The high-profile free speech trial pits the aims of European- driven reform in Turkey - which began EU membership talks last October - against a fiercely nationalistic tradition that permits little challenge. Mr. Pamuk's trial is one of more than 65 other free speech cases now under way in Turkey, which are being closely watched by European observers, as a test of the recent reforms.

"This is a tug of war in Turkey now, between those who favor democratic and EU values, [against] those who are afraid of such change - the hard-core nationalists who are willing to do anything to stop that trend," says Haluk Sahin, a journalism professor at Bilgi University and columnist for Radikal newspaper, who is also facing trial in February under the same statute.

"[Nationalists] have decided that the legal system is the soft underbelly," says Mr. Sahin. "And by using legal instruments and their ties [to the judiciary], they can harm Turkey's prospects in that big march toward the European goal."

Pamuk is charged over remarks made to a Swiss newspaper last February, that "30,000 Kurds and a million Armenians were killed in these lands and nobody but me dares to talk about it."

Pamuk did not use the word "genocide," which is officially rejected here in favor of an "internecine fighting" formulation to explain the Armenian deaths 90 years ago. Western historians, however, often consider the events in Anatolia during the last years of the Ottoman Empire to be the first genocide of the 20th century.

Turkey has also long had difficulty accepting that Kurds have a separate ethnic identity, with their own language and customs, beyond a designation as "Mountain Turks." Battle against separatist Kurds in the 1980s and 1990s left an estimated 30,000 Kurds dead.

Even discussing such issues has been taboo in Turkey, though freedom of speech protection is required to join the EU club. Extremists rallied against Pamuk; a provincial governor ordered his books burned.

"Various newspapers launched hate campaigns against me, with some right-wing (but not necessarily Islamist) columnists going as far as to say that I should be 'silenced' for good," Pamuk writes in the current issue of The New Yorker magazine. "What am I to make of a country that insists that the Turks, unlike their Western neighbors, are a compassionate people, incapable of genocide, while nationalist political groups are pelting me with death threats?" he asks.

Pamuk is the author of prize-winning bestsellers, including "Snow," "My Name is Red," and "The White Castle." He has gained notoriety for exploring controversial views of his culture in a memoir-style of fiction, making him something of a Turkish Salman Rushdie. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Free Speech on Trial in Turkey ; the Case of Writer Orhan Pamuk Is Being Watched as a Test of Political Reforms
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.