Nobel winner Orhan Pamuk is editor-in-chief for a day at Radikal
ISTANBUL - The Associated Press | 1/8/2007 12:00:00 AM | BENJAMIN HARVEY
Novelist and Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk devoted the front page of a major Turkish newspaper on Sunday to the oppression of artists
Novelist and Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk devoted the front page of a major Turkish newspaper on Sunday to the oppression of artists in his native country, fulfilling an old dream of becoming a professional journalist, if only for a day.
Pamuk, whose trial last year for the crime of "insulting Turkishness" received international condemnation, has a degree in journalism but has never practiced the profession. He was given editorial privileges for the Sunday edition of the newspaper Radikal.
Pamuk's cover story criticized the Turkish press and the state for the suppression of free expression in Turkey.
His banner headline quoted a 1951 article about the Turkish intellectual Nazim Hikmet, an acclaimed poet and denounced communist who spent many years in prison in Turkey for his leftist affiliations and later died in exile in Moscow. His sorrowful exile from his beloved country inspired many of his best-known poems.
The 1951 article had featured Hikmet's photograph along with an encouragement for the Turkish public to recognize him and "spit in his face."
"This expression, which was used beside Nazim Hikmet's picture, summarizes the unchanging position of writers and artists in the eyes of the state and the press," Pamuk's cover story said.
Pamuk, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature last year, was one of dozens of authors, journalists, publishers and scholars who have been charged with insulting Turkey, its officials or "Turkishness" under an infamous article of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). The charges against Pamuk were dropped on a technicality in January 2006.
The European Union has demanded that Turkey change its penal code to ensure freedom of expression, but Turkey has yet to act on those demands.
In the corner of the front page, Pamuk addressed writers directly in a friendly, self-effacing column under the headline, "I was a journalist for Radikal yesterday!"
He said the editorship for a day was a way to realize years of unfulfilled professional dreams, but that he lost all confidence on the way to work at the newspaper's offices.
Pamuk remains a divisive figure in Turkey, where nationalists accuse him of treason for talking about the killings of Armenians and Kurds. He took credit for all the articles that readers didn't like, and gave credit for the articles they did like to the workers of Radikal.
Pamuk's front page also featured an article about a ceremony for Orthodox Christmas in Istanbul. It ran under the headline, "One cross, a thousand police" -- a reference to security concerns that surround the Istanbul-based leader of the Orthodox Church and Turkey's dwindling Greek Orthodox community.
Nationalists, who are deeply suspicious of the Orthodox Church's goals in predominantly Muslim Turkey, have interrupted the Orthodox religious ceremony before.
Other articles on Pamuk's front page dealt with the low percentage of women in politics in Turkey and reactions to the publication of video footage of the execution of Saddam Hussein.