ICC Note: Article 301’s use that concerns us is against Christians. It has already been used against them and will be used again. If Turkey wishes to join the EU and enjoy all the economic benefits then they need to allow freedom of thought, speech, and religion. Hat’s off to the EU for making this a sticking point.
Turkey Hits Impasse with EU over Freedom of Expression
by Barbara G. Baker
ISTANBUL, October 31 (Compass Direct News) Last week the European Union (EU) reiterated its demands that Turkey either amend or scrap Article 301, which prohibits insulting Turkishness.
EU critics complain that the law fails to define Turkishness, allowing prosecutors to issue widely varying legal interpretations in a rash of cases against journalists, novelists, professors and other intellectuals. Turkey instituted Article 301 in June 2005 as part of the countrys package of reform laws to facilitate the overwhelmingly Muslim nations entry into the EU.
According to Turkish media reports, Rene van der Linden, chair of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, suggested in a meeting Thursday (October 26) with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul that Europes objections to Article 301 could outweigh even the unresolved dispute over Turkey s refusal to open its seaports and airports to traffic from EU member Greek Cyprus.
But Ankara insists that the issue focuses on implementation of the law, arguing that the courts have yet to send anyone to jail for alleged speech restriction violations.
Although several prominent defendants have been acquitted, including this years Nobel prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk, dozens of trials are still pending in the courts. A number of cases focus on comments regarding the Turkish states denial of what it terms the alleged genocide of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in 1915.
Another acquittal was handed down in May to two professors who prepared a controversial report for a parliamentary sub-commission regarding minority and cultural rights. The report maintained that non-Muslims in particular were subject to discrimination in Turkey and sometimes treated as foreigners rather than equal Turkish citizens.
Accused by nationalists of being treasonous, the report was disowned by the government and never published.
This week still another Article 301 case opens, as a 92-year-old academic expert on Sumerian civilization appears in court tomorrow (November 1) for comments deemed offensive to both Turkish identity and Islam in her latest book.
An attorney in Izmir who was offended by Muazzez Ilmiye Cigs interpretation of the origins of the Muslim headscarf opened a lawsuit against the historian and her editor, accusing them of denigrating Turkish identity and provoking religious hatred.
In the volume published last year, Cig wrote that the headscarf an explosive political symbol for Turkey s conservative Islamic party government was first worn in the Middle East by Sumerian religious prostitutes.
Knowledge cannot be put on trial, Cig told Cumhuriyet newspaper on Saturday (October 28). But if everyone in a country stays quiet, everything is possible.