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Linguist and author Sevan Nişanyan, in remarks he made about the Prophet Muhammad while expressing support to the anti-Islam film “The Innocence of Muslims,” committed a hate crime worthy of prosecution, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said yesterday.

“Swearing and insults can never be assumed as opinion. Only ill-spirited people show such delirium,” Bozdağ told Anatolia news agency.

Hate crimes

In an article posted to his blog on Sept. 29 titled “Hate Crimes Should Be Fought,” Nişanyan defended the American-made film that has sparked angry and violent demonstrations across the Middle East in the name of freedom of expression. “Mocking an Arab leader - who claimed that he contacted God hundreds years ago and who gained political, financial and sexual profit from this - is not hate crime. Almost at the level of kindergarten, it is a test case of the thing called ‘freedom of expression,’” his article stated.

Bozdağ stated that Nişanyan’s words amounted to a crime. “I think prosecutors may have launched the required operations on this issue, as it is a crime defined within the Turkish Penal Code. If they haven’t yet, then I’m denouncing it from here - I’m announcing a crime. This is a typical hate crime. It is hate crime and it is a crime that is defined in our penal code,” he said, adding that it was his opinion that Nişanyan’s piece was aimed at gaining popularity.

Meanwhile, the Armenian Patriarchate’s ecumenical and inter-religious relations official, Bishop Sahag Masalyan, said Nişanyan’s expressions were provocative and offended societal peace, adding that they did not approve the language used.

October/05/2012

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