Death Threats to Turkish Author 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.


Turkish author Orhan Pamuk, winner of the 2006 Nobel prize for literature, has cancelled a reading trip of Germany.
REUTERS

Turkish author Orhan Pamuk, winner of the 2006 Nobel prize for literature, has cancelled a reading trip of Germany.

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.

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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