Turkey: Short-lived freedom for three books, poem censored

“Despite the ban on book lifted under Judicial Pack 3, nine days after the legal statutory period, three books by Umut Publishing were decided to be confiscated,” wrote Antenna TR in the Freedom of Expression Weekly Bulletin on 1 March 2013.

Book covers from Umut Publishing

İstanbul 3rd Magistrate assigned to Anti-terrorism Law (TMK) Article 10 has decided to confiscate the book titles ‘Umut 30 Yaşında, Parti ve Devrim Şehitleri Albümü’, ‘Belgelerle TKP/ML-2, Fırtınalar İçinde Bıçak Sırtında’ and ‘İşkencehanelerde Kızıl Devrim Ruhunu Yaşatmaya Hazırlıklı Ol’, with regard to Chief Public Prosecutor’s requests of 2, 3, and 4 January 2013, on the grounds that the three books were found to contain terrorist organisational propaganda, and thus offending §5187 Press Law article 25/2.

The bans on these books had been lifted by the Judicial Pack 3 under the transitory amendment to the same law.

Another poem censured
According to the website bilgicagi.com, now it is poet Cahit Külebi’s turn to be censored in a 9th grade course book.

The Turkish Education Ministry’s 9th grade ‘Literature book’ contains a well-known poem, ‘Hikaye’, by Cahit Külebi. The poem goes somewhat like this in (what Antenna TR describes as “a meek translation attempt”):

“At villages I was born / north winds prevailed / therefore my lips are parches / kiss me some!”
– where the last line now have been replaced with three dots:

“At villages I was born / north winds prevailed / therefore my lips are parches / …”

The book was edited by Dr. Sakin Öner.
Lately ‘Of Mice and Men’, and ‘My Sweet Orange Tree’ were found unfavorable as well, and poems by famous Turkish poets like Yunus Emre, Kaygusuz Abdal, Edip Cansever have also been removed by the censors, reported The Freedom of Expression Weekly Bulletin on 1 March 2013.


Censoring classic literature to strengthen Islamic identity

Three associations representing Turkey’s biggest educational, writing and film-making unions organised a panel on 7 March 2013 to discuss the Justice and Development Party government’s recent censorship of classic literary works such as Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Happy Prince’ and John Steinback’s ‘Of Mice and Men’.

This was reported from Bianet via IFEX.

“The government aims to give society a more Islamic identity by censoring classic literary works,” said Ünsal Yıldız, chairperson of Egitim-Sen, Turkey’s Education and Science Workers Union.

Noting that the government had promised to transform Turkey into a more transparent and pluralistic society, Yıldız claimed that the Justice and Development Party has finally shown its true colours.

“It is not only about censorship,” Ünsal Yıldız continued. “The government is putting pressure on every opposing opinion. We are experiencing lay-offs at major newspapers. The purpose behind all of these practices is to flourish political Islam in Turkey’s mainstream culture.”

Yıldız further claimed that several classic literary works have been edited to sound more Islamic:

“From Oscar Wilde to Leo Tolstoy, to Heidi and Pinnochio. We see this even in cartoons. This reminds us of the military coup days in 1980, where teachers were facing investigations for what they used in their curriculum. As the union, we strongly encourage our teacher members to keep ‘state-censored’ classic literary pieces in their curriculum, with the original version.”
IFEX – 7 March 2013:
Turkish government censors classic literary works

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