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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Turkish Author, On Trial, Says Novel Is Not Blasphemous

A Turkish author on trial after being charged with inciting religious hatred in a novel based on the birth of Islam said that his book was a work of fiction but the result of extensive research and consultation with religious leaders, and therefore could not be called blasphemous. An Istanbul court on Tuesday adjourned the trial of the author, Nedim Gursel, until June 25. He faces up to a year in jail if convicted.

The novel “Daughters of Allah,” published last year, questioned the ideas of belief and violence in Islam, but had no intention of humiliating religious values, he told the NTV network. The case was filed after a citizen complained that Mr. Gursel had used inappropriate language against the Prophet Muhammad, his wives and the Koran.

In a public letter to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in April, Mr. Gursel noted the damage such trials could cause Turkey’s efforts to join the European Union. Similar trials against intellectuals like the Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk have caused local and international protests, forcing lawmakers to redefine statutes addressing freedom of expression.


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