Two things have been the subject of debate this week in the Turkish blogosphere…Orhan Pamuk being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and the passing of a Armenian genocide law in France.
The issue of the Armenian Genocide has always been a hot-topic discussion, with the claims of whether what historically could be considered as genocide or not, and ultimately who is to blame for historical events. For an Armenian point of view on the Genocide and the French Law Banning anyone from saying that it did not happen, visit Thursday's Central Asia Article on Global Voices.
And the law went through. I wonder if France knows what it is getting itself into? Protest are being held all over Turkey and citizens want all relationships between
Turkey and France to cease. They’ve stepped right into it.
The Infidel called the bill “disgusting”.
Erkan's Field Diary notes the implications that this has on Turkey's bid for EU membership:
Today has been a sad day. Not always I get sad with broader political happenings around me as I am quite used to politics by now, but I can't help being upset this time. And many people around me seem to be upset. Anger turned into a kind of despair. A national parliament of a very significant country explicitly takes aim at Turkey. Despite all threats of sanctions, most of the Turks know that they are helpless. This French arrogance at such an highest level will go unpunished. In our bohemian circle in a super smoky cafÃ©, our chitchat agenda during card playing was that the West has no standards any more. Whatever the Socialists of French parliaments babble, it is just too apparent that they serve for a very strong lobbying effort. If only I could believe in that they really aim to do something good in this life, I would be thinking more positively….This situtation leads to well supported conspiracy theories in the mean time. Even in some intellectual circles some connect the Nobel prize and the parliament vote. Be like Mr. Pamuk and get rewarded otherwise you are condemned… Who can stop the anti-western, anti-EU feelings now?
Me and Others sums up the situation in pointing out French hypocrisy:
the french parliement had already declared that they recognize the armeian genocide as if it is upto them to decide what has ever happened in history, which also makes me wonder why the french parliement doesnt recognize any of the genocides they have commited in africa, if they have an miracle ability of creating facts.
and today the french people accepted the bill which suggests that anyone who says there is not an armenian genocide will be punished severely.
well for a starter, i am saying that there is not a thing such as the armenian genocide. it is a good thing that i am not in france or i would get into really deep trouble. the freedom of speech champions, the human right advocates who love to blame Turkey for anything they grasp into their hands is now blatantly violating the freedom of expression.
And ultimately, the discussion of freedom of expression is what is at the heart of this Turkish discussion. In fact most discussion of the Armenian Genocide bill has been in conjunction with the news of Turkish author Orhan Pamuk winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the reason for that was that not too long ago Orhan Pamuk was going to be put on trial for “Insulting Turkishness” for speaking out publically about the Armenian Genocide. Hakan Aydin from Aydin.net explains the political link between the Nobel Prize:
Many people around the world claim that such is the case for Pamuk’s Nobel Prize, first Nobel Prize awarded to a Turk. Pamuk has been a candidate for Nobel prize since 2002 for his novels, but unfortunately, he is best known for being charged in Turkey for his aggressive stance on issues such as the Armenian claims of genocide: “30000 Kurds and 1 million Armenians were killed in this country and no one dares to talk about it except me”.
The law that triggers these charges is not effectively enforced in Turkey for a long time. (This is similar to the law on death penalty in Turkey; even though there was a law that allowed it, there was a de facto moratorium on death penalty as the last execution took place in 1984. The death penalty was completely removed from law in May 2004 Turkey). The charges against Pamuk were dropped eventually without any punishment.
It would be naive to think that Pamuk’s Nobel Prize isn’t politically motivated, as Pamuk is now the third consecutive literature laureate with heavy political baggage. Last year’s winner, British playwright Harold Pinter, is equally well known for his strident leftist politics. The 2004 honoree, Elfriede Jelinek, is a fierce critic of Austria’s conservative establishment.
Athanasia's Daily notes the pleasure at the Nobel Prize award but with some doubt:
Pamuk is the first Turkish writer who won Nobel Literature Prize. I am quite happy about it. I like him even though I havent been reading him for maybe 3 or 4 years but the prize made me remember him again. So it seems like the next book I read will be one of his.
However dont you think that there is a paradox between the French bill and this prize if the Nobel jury was influenced of Pamuk's trouble here in Turkey because of the article 301 and his words about the “so-called” Armenian genocide?
Amerikan Turk talks about the duality that Pamuk is seen as within Turkey:
Orhan Pamuk wins the Nobel Prize for Literature, and France passes their coveted armenian genocide bill…
For Armenians, both events are victories. It is Pamuk who spoke openly about genocide, resulting in a court battle for his freedom. For Armenians, he is considered to be one of the “good Turks”, I'm sure. For many Turks, Pamuk is loathed as a treasonous sell-out.
Talk Turkey considers the impact of these recent events on the ability for discussion on the Armenian Genocide to even continue within Turkey:
He [Orhan Pamuk]already noted that what he intended to mean is the need for more open dialogue about this subject.
Besides, his comment did not specifically indicate that Turkey was the responsible party, and even if it had, did he mean for Turkey to be accused of ‘systematic’ killings indicating genocide.
If the legislation passed by France becomes the law, he would be charged according to the above denial of genocide position, and controversy would erupt, more so than it did when involving Turkey, a relatively restrictive country compared with France, as far as Westerners’ perception -real or not.
There has also been speculation on discussion forums that the passing of the French law and the political awarding of the Nobel Prize to Orhan Pamuk might lead to a complete halt of all discussion on the Armenian Genocide.
Despite the controversy, Orhan Pamuk has the honor and distinction of being the first Turk to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and it does say alot for the level of modern Turkish literature. Mavi Boncuk reminds us of that and gives an excellent biography of Orhan Pamuk.
Now the above isn't the only happenings in Turkey this week, so I made sure to add some interesting links this week to make up for what wasn't covered.
1. New yahoo group called Turk Amerikan Ticaret Merkesi (Turkish American Trade Center)(TR) to discuss various aspects of Turkish business in America.
2. Learn more about Sufi dances from Tarkan Deluxe.
3. A bit of a funny…Turkish Star Trek.