Author Elif Shafak was acquitted after being taking to trial for "insulting Turkishness" when a fictional character described the Armenian genocide in her latest book. AFP/Getty Images
Elif claims that Article 301 was introduced as a positive/progressive step towards EU integration.. at least compared to older articles which it replaced.. but that it is open to mis-interpretation and exploited by the Turkish Penal System.. I agree that it's mis-interpreted, but more so by outsiders.. If Article 301 was re-named to something more compatible with it's purpose, then it would avoid many of the condemnation it receives from Turkey's detractors. Let me repeat a comment I introduced a couple of weeks ago in response to Bolsa Hye over at Global Voices:
What is regrettable is the term used to decribe what it’s violators are accused of, because it really leads people into the weeds: “insulting Turkishness”… I believe a more fitting term for Article 301 defendants might be: “Inciting rebellion”. In my view, Article 301 serves to keep certain radical elements from clashing with other more benign elements. Erasing it will cause the majority of Turks (nationalists) to clash violently with “hyphenated-Turks”. Keeping the minority in check keeps the majority from assaulting the other, by way of deterring provocation. Do you deny that this is possible? Is it so far fetched that at present, Article 301 is necessary? Most seem to be too myopic to understand that Article 301 didn’t appear out of thin air, that it was created by lawmakers.. who were elected as democratically as you can presently find in the middle east. Does this explanation, right or wrong, mean that I believe it’s a good thing, however necessary? No, absolutely not. The fact that the majority of nationalist Turks are too immature or insecure to even fathom tolerating something spoken against the state, is not anything for Turks to be proud of. Hopefully, we’ll live to see the day when Turks do not feel threatened by a difference in thinking, and a day when hyphenated-Turks refrain from deliberate provocation.
And to Gulay:
"There's free speech, and then there's the kind of free speech which can get you killed. If Article 301 did it's job and deterred people from attracting attention to their unpopular views, then perhaps people like Hrant Dink would still be alive. So you see I'm not a fan of Article 301.. rather I'm a fan of Article 301 having the potential to save lives. Some Turks are not yet ready to accept a difference in thinking.. not yet. I would rather tolerate a little totalitarianism as you put it, than be gunned down on the street. When Turkish society is ready, A-301 will go away.. and trust me I'll be among the first to say good riddance!"
Elif opines (paraphrased) that the enforcers of Article 301 are a minority who want to stop the EU process.. who want to see the country as a more xenophobic nation-state.. a closed society.. and I quote:
"..It intrigues me to see how Armenians in the Diaspora tend to be past-oriented.. memory-oriented.. whereas when you look at the Turks.. that's not the case at all. We are more future oriented.. and in some ways we are a society of collective amnesia. So it's not only 1915 that we are unable to talk about.. but the whole past.. For many people in Turkey history begins in 1923.. the day the Republic was established.. That is the beginning.. and anything that might have happened before then.. is of no real interest..."
Hmmm. What intrigues me Elif is your choice of friends back in 2005..Fatma Muge Gocek, Richard Hovannisian, Elif Shafak, Taner Akcam strike a pose at the 2005 UCLA conference.