Religious directorate says Armenian writer should be prosecuted for remarks on Islamic call to prayer

Jan 25 2024

The Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) has filed a criminal complaint against Armenian writer and linguist Sevan Nişanyan for his remarks about the Islamic call to prayer (adhan), Turkish Minute reported, citing the Gazete Duvar news website.

“I know of no other attack as disgusting as the adhan over loudspeakers. [It is] rape, harassment at the level of grabbing people’s private parts. This is one of the most horrible aspects of life in Turkey,” Nişanyan said on Sunday in his weekly livestream on YouTube where he answers questions from his fanbase.

The complaint, filed with the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, alleges that Nişanyan’s remarks on Sunday constitute an insult to Islamic religious values and symbols as well as a provocation of public division and tension.

According to the state-run Anadolu news agency, the complaint filed by the Diyanet claims that Nişanyan’s comments “crossed the boundaries of respect” and incited “hatred” with a “hostile attitude” towards the Islamic faith and values.

The complaint calls for Nişanyan to be prosecuted for “insulting public officials in the performance of their duties” and “inciting the public to hatred and hostility.”

Nişanyan, a 66-year-old writer, is known in Turkey for his controversial views. In 2014 he was imprisoned in Turkey on charges of illegal construction. He claims this was in response to his criticism of restrictions on freedom of _expression_ in the country. After escaping from a low security prison in 2017, Nişanyan applied for asylum in Greece but was deported in January 2022 due to what Athens said were problems with his residence permit. After a short stay in Armenia, he now lives in Montenegro.

Nişanyan’s previous conviction in Turkey for blasphemy in connection with a 2012 blog post defending an Islamophobic film has added to his controversial status.

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS