Thursday, October 12, 2006

Orhan Pamuk and Armenian Genocide

Orhan Pamuk of Turkey has won the

He is a post-modern writer who also melancholically describes a clash of cultures. What may be even more interesting is that in February 2005, he stated in an interview that 1 million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed by Turkey in 1915-17 and he was the only one to dare to talk about it.

Because he was right on both counts, he immediately became a target of a hateful campaign by the Turkish nationalists and had to flee the country. In June 2005, the Parliament introduced a new law that made it a crime to say anything bad about Turkey and Pamuk was retroactively charged with "insulting Turkishness". Wow.

What's interesting is that almost exactly at the very same moment when Pamuk's Nobel prize was announced, the National Assembly of France voted 106-19 for a new bill that makes it illegal, on the contrary, to deny the Armenian Genocide. Normally I support Turkey's membership in the EU but we often have to face various questions: is it a good starting point for harmony if it is crime in one member country not to admit a certain thing that is a crime to say in another country?

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