Friday, December 16, 2005

Reprieve for Orhan Pamuk?

The great Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk was due to go on trial today for insulting Turkish identity. Pamuk had the gracelessness to say, in a newspaper interview in reactionary Switzerland, that Turkey bore some responsibility for the genocide of Armenians early in the last genocidal century, as well as utter responsibility for an ongoing war of attrition against Turkey’s Kurds. The remarks were not appreciated in Free and Democratic Turkey, where outspoken journalists have Lebanese life spans and veil-wearing Muslims are the scourge of Officially Secular Turkey. The offense could have earned Pamuk three years in Turkey’s jails, known the world over, of course, as models of coddling and humane treatment. This morning a judge found a technical way out for Pamuk, at least until February 7. The judge decided that the trial couldn’t go ahead until the ministry of justice signed off. Must be one of those obscure regulations invoked at the urging and convenience of a government finding the pie on its face a bit less sugary than anticipated. “The irony of it all,” Radio Netherlands tells us, “is that the Turkish government may now be able to escape being put in the dock itself through the intervention of its own minister of justice - a move that would be totally at odds with the democratic spirit and rules within the European Union.” Let’s not forget that Turkey is dying to be part of the EU. The move is beginning to look more lateral than a step up: Just last month the EU’s highest court ruled in favor of Turkey’s and France’s idiotic ban on Muslim head scarves in public institutions. Snow's plot beckons all over again.