The controversy over awarding the Nobel Prize for Literature to the Austrian writer Peter Handke has not subsided. The spokesman for the Turkish presidency, Ibrahim Kalin, has approached the Nobel Prize committee and asked that that the writer, guilty of siding with the Serbs during the Balkan war, be denied the prize:
“The Nobel Prize to Handke is a shameful decision that must be annulled”.
Turkey has taken the lead of a number of Muslim countries that have protested about Handke. The Turkish ambassador to Sweden, Hakki Emre Yunt, told the Turkish broadcaster Hurriyet that he will not attend the ceremony, while President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the Swedish Academy had already given the Nobel Prize to a “Turkish terrorist”, a reference to the writer Orhan Pamuk (the only other Turkish Nobel Prize winner, the biochemist Aziz Sancar, is not known to be a government critic).
Turkey, at the same time, prevented one of its most famous writers, Ahmet Altan, from flying to Munich to receive the Geschwister-Scholl prize, which bears the names of the heads of the White Rose who were executed by the Nazis. In September 2016, Altan, founder of the now banned Taraf newspaper, was arrested on charges of taking part in the attempted coup against Erdogan. On February 16, 2018, the writer was sentenced to life imprisonment for “spreading a subliminal message” during a television program the day before the coup.
“You can imprison me but you can’t keep me here. Because, like all writers, I can easily cross your walls”, Altan wrote in “I Will Never See the World Again”, the book written in his cell in Silivri’s maximum security prison. Last November 4, Altan was released on the condition that he reported regularly to the police. A few days ago, he suffered a new arrest.
Turkish writer and Nobel Prize winner Pamuk, who in 2005 was tried in Istanbul and publicly attacked yesterday by Erdogan, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung: “As long as systematic injustices against Altan continue and we remain silent, it will be shameful for us and our humanity.”
Altan is not the only Turkish writer to have ended up in jail.
The poet Nedim Türfent has been in jail for 1,250 days, guilty of writing about human rights violations in Kurdistan.
Another famous novelist, Asli Erdogan, was in prison when in Germany she was awarded the Peace Prize named after Erich Maria Remarque in the German city of Osnabrück.
The writer Sevan Nisanyan was sentenced to thirteen months for irony on the Prophet Mohammed.
And at Erdogan’s request, Interpol arrested another Turkish writer on holiday in Spain, Dogan Akhanli, guilty of having set his novel “Kiyamet Gunu Yargiclari” (The Judges of the Last Judgment) during the Armenian genocide.
Now Turkey would like to see Handke to be deprived of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Someone should explain to Erdogan that the border, first of all moral and cultural, between Europe and Turkey is still drawn on the Bosphorus. And it should remain there.
Article by Giulio Meotti published in Arutz Sheva, Israel National News