NPR logo Schism: Free Speech vs. 'Insulting Turkishness'


Schism: Free Speech vs. 'Insulting Turkishness'

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Acclaimed novelist Elif Safak was acquitted last week after being taking to trial for "insulting Turkishness" when a fictional character described the Armenian genocide in her latest book.

Armenian-Turkish newspaper editor Hrant Dink wasn't so lucky. He received a six-month suspended sentence for talking about the genocide, and faces two more trials for similar charges.

It may look like a battle over freedom of speech. In fact, the defendants say the Armenian Genocide, and the law that bans "insulting Turkishness," have become a political football between Turkish ultranationalists and pre-European politicians.

Anti-Turkish European politicians have entered the fray by passing laws forbidding citizens to deny that a genocide of Armenians took place in 1915.

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