ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Some 20.000 books have been
banned in Turkey since the Ottoman
Ottoman and Turkish authorities have banned 20,000 books in the Turkey since 1834, according to a new book by Emin Karaca, who said censors in the republican era have approached their work with a zeal that was unseen in imperial times.
Titled “Vaaay Kitabın Başına Gelenler!” (Look what happened to these books!), the researcher and writer’s work was introduced at a press conference held in the Turkish Journalists Association’s clubhouse on Dec. 17. According to the book, the most frequently banned books in the Republican period are renowned author Nazım Hikmet’s works and Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital.”
Karaca said he completed the research on banned books over a period of five years. For Karaca, Turkey is a paradise for bans. “The most banned author during the Republican period was Nazım Hikmet, since it was thought that he would introduce socialism to the public,” Karaca said.
Karaca also spoke of the banned books list prepared for schools by the Board of Education and Discipline in 1970. “Almost all of the authors who are on the banned list are Turkish,” he said.
Turkish Publishers’ Union (TYB) chair Metin Celal, meanwhile, said bans had been lifted on 453 books and over 600 publications by the Ankara
Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office last week as part of a third judicial reform package.
According to Celal, appeals were made to the police once again for the ban of 67 books and 16 periodicals. “During cases of arrested students, banned books found in their houses were regarded as criminal evidence. The state does not want to abolish the bans,” Celal said. “The Anti-Terror law and the relevant articles in the Turkish Penal Code should be altered as soon as possible.”
Karaca said some books were also banned during the Ottoman period; however, officials in the Republican period have been more severe in implementing bans even when compared to the reign of Sultan Abdülhamid, who was famous for his strict censorship.
“During the Tanzimat period [a re-organization of the empire’s administration that began in 1839], sultans used to ban books by enacting imperial edicts. During the reign of Abdülhamid, there was a censorship institution, which used to determine the bans on books. Even Abdülhamid’s method of censorship was more civilized [than today’s],” Karaca said.