Death threats to Turkish author

Spiegel Online, Germany
Jan 31 2007

Orhan Pamuk Cancels Trip to Germany

Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk has cancelled a promotional tour of
Germany. His decision is thought to be related to threats shouted at
the writer by the militant nationalist accused of ordering the
killing of journalist Hrant Dink.

The Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk has decided to cancel a
trip to Germany in the light of the recent murder of the
Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. Threats shouted at Pamuk by
the alleged mastermind behind that murder seem to have persuaded the
author to keep a low profile for the time being.

The celebrated Turkish writer was due to receive an honorary
doctorate at Berlin’s Free University on Friday before embarking on a
reading tour of major German cities. Pamuk’s German publisher, Carl
Hanser Verlag, and the Free University confirmed Wednesday media
reports that the author had cancelled the trip at short notice.

Pamuk is believed to be concerned about travelling following the
assassination of Hrant Dink on Jan. 19. Yasin Hayal, the alleged
mastermind behind that murder, declared on his way into court on Jan.
24: "Tell Orhan Pamuk to wise up!" The nationalist is accused of
initiating Dink’s slaying, having admitted to police that he urged
the underage Ogün Samast to carry out the killing and even provided
him with the weapon.

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The decision to cancel the tour will be another blow to Turkey’s
reputation when it comes to the issue of freedom of expression.
Pamuk, like Dink, had appeared before a Turkish court charged with
"insulting Turkishness" after commenting on the deaths of up to one
and a half million Armenians at the end of World War I.

However, the case was dropped after the Turkish Minister of Justice
said that a new legal code removed it from his jurisdiction. Official
Turkish policy is to deny that there was any genocidal campaign
against the Armenians, claiming that they died along with many ethnic
Turks during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Pamuk is despised by
militant Turkish nationalists for talking about the mass murder and
for criticizing the Turkish government’s handling of the conflict
with the Kurdish separatists in the south east of the country.

The author of Snow and My Name is Red had planned to travel to
Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, Stuttgart and Munich to read from his
latest book Istanbul: Memories and the City. Berlin’s Free University
confirmed that the presentation of the honorary doctorate had been
postponed, and that no new date had been set for the ceremony. The
university announced that it "greatly" regretted the cancellation.

The chair of Germany’s Islamic Council, Ali Kizilkaya, expressed his
disappointment at Pamuk’s decision. "A Nobel Prize winner who can’t
travel is something regrettable," he told the news agency DDP. He
called on the author to visit Germany at a later date. "Freedom can’t
be restricted through threats," he said.

There is not thought to be a concrete threat against the author in
Germany. Rather Pamuk is believed to be concerned about travelling at
all at the moment.

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