Prof Guilty of Insulting Turkish Founder

Suspended sentence may mean trouble for country's bid to join EU
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2008 10:31 AM CST
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, rear-center, and his ministers listen to President Shimon Peres of Israel addressing Turkey's Parliament in Ankara, in this Nov. 13, 2007 file photo. The Turkish...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A Turkish court today handed a political science professor a 15-month suspended sentence for insulting the country's founder. Attila Yayla had suggested that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was not as progressive as official portrayals indicate. The conviction heightens scrutiny of the country's commitment to freedom of expression as it pursues EU membership, reports the BBC.

Lawyers for Yayla, a prominent liberal, immediately said they will appeal. "I am ready for everything, whatever the result," Yayla said. Insulting Ataturk's memory is a crime under Turkish law, as is insulting "Turkishness." The latter law has been used repeatedly to prosecute writers and other intellectuals, including Nobel Prize-winner Orhan Pamuk.