Turkish Novelist Acquitted

Turkish novelist Elif Shafak was acquitted of charges of "insulting Turkishness" with her novel The Bastard of Istanbul. A character within the fiction described the killing of Armenians in WWI as "genocide" and as a result, Shafak faced three years in prison for the offense.

Article 301 of the Turkish penal code criminalises the "public denigration" of Turkishness, the Turkish Republic, the Grand National Assembly, the government, judiciary, military and security services in terms so broad as to be applicable to a wide range of critical opinions. More than 60 writers have been charged under the law since its introduction last year.
Shafak gave birth to her first child last Saturday and therefore could not attend the ruling. Shafak, her lawyer, and her publisher are all very happy at the acquittal, but Shafak noted that the law still exists, therefore creating a culture of censorship and fear in Turkey. The Turkish Prime Minister has conceded, however, that perhaps it is time to change the law and amend the article.

The Bastard of Istanbul will be available in the U.S. in March of 2007.

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