A best-selling author will go on trial in Turkey today for comments made by her fictional characters in a case that puts the country’s human rights record under fresh scrutiny. Elif Shafak gave birth to a baby daughter only days ago, yet she is one of a number of writers, journalists and academics being pursued by prosecutors for allegedly insulting “Turkishness”. She faces up to three years in prison if convicted.
In the novel, the characters refer to the deaths of one and a half million Armenians during the First World War, allegedly at the hands of Ottoman Turks. Turkey denies the claims of genocide, saying both Turks and Armenians died in what amounted to a partisan conflict. The EU, which Turkey hopes to join, wants the penal code article scrapped. But the gouvernement in Ankara is split.