Passport

A novel prosecution

Literature is under attack in Turkey. Tomorrow, prize-winning novelist Elif Shafak will go on trial in Istanbul over comments about the Armenian genocide that a character makes in her best-selling novel, The Bastard of Istanbul. The offensive comment: “I am the grandchild of genocide survivors who lost all their relatives at the hands of Turkish ...

606990_Shafak5.jpg

Literature is under attack in Turkey. Tomorrow, prize-winning novelist Elif Shafak will go on trial in Istanbul over comments about the Armenian genocide that a character makes in her best-selling novel, The Bastard of Istanbul. The offensive comment: “I am the grandchild of genocide survivors who lost all their relatives at the hands of Turkish butchers in 1915,” says Dikran Stamboulian, a minor Armenian character in the book. And for that reference to a genocide, Ms. Shafak is being charged with insulting “Turkishness.” The case against her is being led by ultranationalists, one of whom recently linked the possibility of Turkey’s accession to the EU and Ms. Shafak’s novel as stripping away Muslim identity in Turkey, mostly by those who, like Ms. Shafak, “support a more open Turkey,…world citizens, half-Turks.” 

Unfortunately, Shafak is hardly the first to be charged with this broad and ridiculous offense. More than 60 writers and publishers have been prosecuted under new laws introduced 18 months ago. And though Turkey has long had restrictions on its writers, it seems that, with Turkey undergoing a real identity crisis over whether to seek EU membership, there’s never been more at stake. We’ll be sure to watch the case.

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola