Turkish Free Speech Issue Blocks EU Entry

Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code makes it a crime to insult the Turkish nation, and naturally the government decides what constitutes an “insult.” Under pressure of the European Union, the Turkish government last May supposedly modified the article to permit some form of protest against the government, but Justice Minister Ali Sahin has his own ideas as to what is permitted in his nation. He defends the prosecution of writer Temei Demirer because of his statement that Turkey carried out a genocide against Armenians a hundred years ago. According to the Justice Minister, “this man is saying Turkey is murderer state. I am not going to allow anyone call my state a murderer. These(expressions of Demirer)expressions are not exercising freedom of speech: these are humiliating the state, which is exactly what 301 criminalizes.”

Of course, if the Sahin philosophy was law in America, there would be need to build thousands of jails to handle the number of people who believe George Bush is a murderer and hate torturing prisoners. Sahin argues not all cases have gone to court that originally were filed. He misses the point, not a single case should go to court if there is freedom of speech in Turkey. The European Union will not be satisfied by lame excuses as those stated by the Minister of Justice.