Feature

Turkey: Too quick to take offense

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is far too thin-skinned, said Orhan Kemal Cengiz at Today’s Zaman.

Orhan Kemal CengizToday’s Zaman

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is far too thin-skinned, said Orhan Kemal Cengiz, and that does our country no credit. After Brooklyn-based novelist Paul Auster said he wouldn’t visit Turkey in protest over the jailing of scores of reporters and writers, Erdogan lost his temper. In an address to party members last week, he mocked Auster, saying, “Who cares if you come or if you don’t?” He added that Auster was hypocritical for visiting Israel, a country with a less-than-stellar record on human rights. But the prime minister’s reaction misses the point. The fact is, plenty of foreigners have come to see Turkey as “a country where writers are silenced.” They point most often to the 2007 killing of Hrant Dink, the ethnic Armenian writer who was frequently prosecuted for accusing Turkey of genocide against Armenians in World War I. It was not the government but its enemies that were responsible for Dink’s tragic death. But Erdogan has opened himself to blame by failing to abolish the law that criminalizes insults to Turkey. Worse, he continues to bring lawsuits against journalists who criticize him. And now his “nonsensical and unsophisticated discussion” about Auster has further contributed to undermining Turkey’s democratic image abroad.

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