Cheat-Seeking Missles

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Freedom Of Speech, Islam Style

Turkey is the parenthetical Muslim nation, the one you always have to recognize as the exception to the rule that there are no Muslim democracies. But Muslim democracies are not free democracies; witness Turkey's continuing failure to accept that it perpetrated genocide against the Armenians, and it's way of dealing with this failure. From the Times of London:

TURKEY’S faltering hopes of European Union membership look set to be dealt a blow this week when Elif Shafak, one of the leading members of a new generation of Turkish female novelists, faces charges under the country’s draconian restrictions on freedom of speech.

Shafak, 34, is being tried under article 301 of the Turkish penal code, which makes it an offence to insult “Turkishness”. Her alleged crime is that a character in her latest bestselling novel, The Bastard of Istanbul, describes the massacres of Armenians in the late Ottoman Empire as a genocide — an interpretation which, although widely accepted internationally, is still vigorously denied by the Turkish state.

Although other Turks have faced charges for referring to the events of 1915-16 as a genocide, Shafak is the first writer to be prosecuted for words spoken by a character in a work of fiction.

Shafak's trial will start about the time she's scheduled to go into labor. No delay is expected in the trial date.

The charges were brought by the Union of Jurists, a group of ultra-nationalist lawyers, who appear intent on derailing Turkey's effort to become a member of the European Union. Their reason is obvious: Turkey is not a European nation. There still is far too wide a gulf between Islamic democracy and true democracy, and some in Turkey do not want to see the gulf narrowed.

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