Author Elif Shafak was acquitted of charges of “insult” at a hearing on 21 September held before Beyoglu Court of First Instance in Istanbul. PEN is delighted by this outcome, considering the trial against Elif Shafak to have been in direct violation of her right to freedom of expression. She was charged with “insult” to Turkishness under article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code for comments made by fictitious characters in her best selling novel Baba ve Pic (Father and Bastard).
At least 18 other writers, publishers and journalists are on trial in Turkey on charges of “insult”, and many more under other laws that have been used to stifle legitimate comment in Turkey. For example, on 5 October, Ipek Çalislar, the author of Latife Hanim (Lady Latife), will go on trial for a biography of the first wife of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. She could be sentenced to up to 4 ½ years for “insult” to the memory of Atatürk, under Law 5816.
Elif Shafak tells PEN that these laws are “used as a weapon to silence people – journalists, intellectuals, publishers and editors” by a reactionary faction within the Turkish establishing whose goal is to “curb the domain of art and literature”.
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/turkeyauthorelifshafakacquitte/