Thursday, January 25, 2007

Let us hope...

I know that many Turkish friends were saddened and angered at the murder of Hrant Dink. This is a clear instance where civil society, which is robust in Turkey, can make a significant difference for the better.

Turkey and the Armenians | How to honour Hrant | "There are clearly plenty of Turkish citizens who agree with all this: that was the message of hope from Mr Dink's funeral. It is not the first time that a display of Turkey's worst side has prompted a huge show of “people power” by ordinary citizens. A decade ago, when a car crash exposed links between the security forces and the criminal underworld, millions of Turks protested. What such demonstrations highlight is the irrelevance of much of Turkey's formal political debate to its real dilemma: will its future be shaped by the freely expressed will of its citizens—as behoves a candidate member of the European Union—or by more shadowy forces such as extreme nationalism or an uncontrolled state? Whatever the setbacks, hope for the better way is very much still alive.

But if Mr Dink is to be honoured in death, popular indignation will not suffice. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's moderate Islamist prime minister, should rescind Article 301 of the penal code which outlaws “insults to Turkishness”. This sinister provision in a new code, which was supposed to modernise Turkey's legal system, has been a huge step backwards. It gives fanatics the chance to haul before the courts some of Turkey's best journalists, including Mr Dink, as well as writers and scholars. Worse, noisy prose"

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