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Turkish Author Acquitted of Insulting Islam

Daily News

Online Only, posted 6.26.09

Author Nedim Gürsel, who was charged with insulting Islam after the publication of his 2008 novel The Daughters of Allah, was acquitted yesterday by a court in Istanbul. According to the Turkish news network BIA, the court said that “the novel as a whole does not have any criminal intent and does not represent a crime.”

Gürsel was charged after Ali Emre Bukağılı, a member of a group that campaigns against the theory of evolution, complained last year about the novel’s depiction of Mohammed, the Prophet’s wives, and the Koran. Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Code, which deals with incitements to violence based on ethnicity, class, and religion, also prohibits the denigration of religious values. According to Reuters, Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate—responsible for overseeing the officially secular country’s mosques—intervened in the trial on behalf of the prosecution.

Gürsel, who also holds French citizenship, teaches contemporary Turkish literature at the Sorbonne in Paris. If convicted, he could have been sentenced to between one and three years in prison. The plaintiffs have seven days to appeal Thursday’s verdict.

Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk faced a similar trial in 2005 for “insulting Turkishness” after comments he made regarding the Armenian Genocide. His case was eventually dropped on a technicality.

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