Pamuk Slams Article 301 and YouTube Ban in Turkey

FRANKFURT, Germany (Combined Sources)–Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk slammed the controversial Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code and the implementation of a ban on video website, YouTube, in his speech at the opening of the Frankfurt Book Fair on Tuesday.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul also attended the opening ceremony of the fair, in which Turkey is the honor guest.

Pamuk, the 2006 Nobel literature prize winner, lamented difficulties that still face writers in Turkey but sounded optimistic on the situation of Turkish literature.

"The Turkish state’s penchant for banning books and punishing writers unfortunately continues," Pamuk said at the fair’s official opening, citing Article 301 of Turkey’s penal code, legislation that was used to prosecute him and criticizing an access ban on YouTube.

Pamuk was tried under the controversial article in a court case that was filed over remarks he made regarding the Armenian genocide. He was later acquitted in the high case which was under the spotlight of the European Union.

"But no one should think that writers and publishers let themselves be discouraged," said Pamuk, whose commen’s were translated into German. "The Turkish publishing landscape has become astonishingly large and multifaceted in the last 15 years."

Meanwhile, President Gul highlighted reforms over recent years and said his country now, "to a great extent, fulfills the European Unions conditions" regarding freedom of opinion and respect for cultural diversity.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier praised Turkey’s recent reforms as it negotiates to join the EU and underlined the importance of freedom of opinion.

"Turkey may still have a little way to go here–but we should support Turkey on this way," he said.

This year’s book fair runs from Wednesday to Friday for members of the industry and opens its doors to the public on Saturday and Sunday. Organizers expect some 300,000 visitors to attend.

Some 7,448 exhibitors from 100 nations will be presenting more than 402,000 titles in Frankfurt, with the fair also looking toward the growth of the electronic, or e-book market.

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