[Marxism] Insulting Turkishness
lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Nov 9 12:36:22 MST 2006
Sooner or later I expect to run into Nobel Prize winner Oran Pamuk on the
Columbia campus, where he is a visiting scholar. (He was also here in that
capacity from 1985 to 1988.) I have yet to meet a single Turk who is a fan
of his novels. I suspect that they resent his pronouncements on Turkish
oppression of national minorities, even though they are by no means
ultranationalists themselves. They probably question his use of Western
platforms since the often serve as outlets of opposition to Turkey being
admitted to the European Union. There is a feeling of being victimized by a
double standard, since the West has been far bloodier than Turkey over the
There were obvious political calculations involved in awarding the Nobel
Prize to Pamuk. Pamuk is looked at as a bridge-builder between the West and
the East. He was put on trial in Turkey after telling a Swiss newspaper
last year that 30,000 Kurds and one million Armenians had been killed
during World War I under the Ottoman Turks. Such statements constitute
"insulting Turkishness", which is punishable under Article 301 of the
Turkish Penal Code as follows:
1. Public denigration of Turkishness, the Republic or the Grand National
Assembly of Turkey shall be punishable by imprisonment of between six
months and three years.
2. Public denigration of the Government of the Republic of Turkey, the
judicial institutions of the State, the military or security structures
shall be punishable by imprisonment of between six months and two years.
3. In cases where denigration of Turkishness is committed by a Turkish
citizen in another country the punishment shall be increased by one third.
4. Expressions of thought intended to criticize shall not constitute a crime.
After the case generated terrible publicity for the Turkish government
worldwide, the charges were dropped. Since the ruling Islamic party came to
power in a challenge to the secular nationalist Kemalist establishment that
had been identified historically with such laws and since it was anxious to
build commercial ties to the West (its religious values are wed to
conventional neoliberalism), it had little incentive to see Pamuk behind bars.
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