BOOKS > Turkish author Pamuk likens secular class’ attitude to South African racism


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Hürriyet photo

Hürriyet photo

Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk likened the attitude of the secular class toward conservatives to that of "the attitude of South Africa's white people toward blacks."

During an interview with Germany's Die Zeit, Pamuk said the secular class "looks down on women who wear headscarves [and] hate their own citizens."

"That attitude reminds me of the attitude of South Africa's white population toward the blacks," Pamuk said.

He also branded what he called the "upper Turkish secular class" as egoists, saying they were not bothered by military interventions or the Kurdish issue.

Pamuk, however, admitted that he was also a part of the bourgeoisie.

"Their life is my life. We are of the same class and of the same street. We shop from the same stores," Pamuk said. "I wrote lovingly of them and I mocked them as well."

Turkish Nobel laureate Pamuk opens 'Museum of Innocence'


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8/17/2012 8:48:41 PM

To Safiyah, those people who think that Secular, Kemalist and Republican Turks are in fear of the ones who are religious are mistaken. Because M.Kemal entrusted Turkish Republic to the Turkish youths as saying ''Your primary duty is to forever protect and defend the Turkish independence and Turkish Republic. The strength you shall need exists in the noble blood flowing through your veins.'' Comparison of blacks and headscarves are completely nonsense. Unless they start killing Secular class.


8/17/2012 7:58:12 PM

Many are missing the point. There are no non-secular Turks as far as I can tell, except some fringe minority. This is a conflict between two classes. Between highly Westernized and non-practicing, non-religious (even atheist), Western thinking and educated Turks and the masses who are extremely comfortable with their religion, Middle Eastern character and Asian roots. When we proudly say Turkey is the bridge between East and West, it is more literal than most white Turks (me!) realize or admit.

jeffrey Jeffrey

8/17/2012 6:33:01 PM

Considering it is secular Turks who are buying and reading Pamuk's books, this is an irrational and suicidal statement but not unusual. Among my secular Turkish friends, the usual comment about Orhan Pamuk is who is he trying to suck up to this week.Talking about biting the hand that feeds him.

Ahmetcan Caglayan

8/17/2012 6:18:20 PM

I am a progressive, secular, somewhat liberal Muslim. I am a Kemalist, Pamuk is the kind of man who wants to see Turkey turn into Iran. Without Secularism, there is no progress. Pamuk is wrong on all levels and tries unsuccessfully to compare Turkey with Apartheid. There is no connection whatsoever.

american american

8/17/2012 4:34:16 PM

safiyah, us seculars have only been 'elites' for a century or two. even now to get anywhere, one still needs to be seen as religious. we have made great strides in understanding where we have come from in the last 2 centuries and yes we fear going back to the days when religion reigned supreme.

Orkun Osken

8/17/2012 4:28:51 PM

Secularism is the only way forward in this age nothing else can work in a state, there so many things which can be said but Secular people are not against change as long as it is a change for better and forward, religion only caused wars, terror, discrimination and caused people to stay behind the time and era and all the states follow it, religion is for personal life for individuals, main problem in Turkey is people try to impose their rights on others and government supporting a religion

Tekion Particle

8/17/2012 4:15:56 PM

Does not sound like an enlightened writer. Was he smoking something before he gave the interview. If you ask me he has totally lost it or there may be a more hideous motive behind it as Daniel Dravot suggested.


8/17/2012 4:11:45 PM

As a white Turk and surrounded with likes, I totally get him. South Africa analogy is a hyperbole though and there are vast differences between attitudes towards other social classes versus organized and systematized racism. There are too many "seculars" who are now strangers and feel like a minority in their own country. I say that is wrong and one can not just blame AKP for it.

Safiyah Noor Page

8/17/2012 3:53:14 PM

To MB, that is exactly the attitude Mr. Pamuk was referring to. As far as Mr. Pamuk's reporting about the impressions and feelings of his own social class who better to share about them than he? From reading the op ed pieces in this paper it is clear that those that identify themselves as "secular" do feel fear and hate people they identified as "religious". The why is simple: Their influence is growing and changing the character of Turkey and these elites have no interest in the changes. Sad.

mara mcglothin

8/17/2012 3:43:35 PM

I don't understand these statements from MR PAMUK. One minute he is critical of secular Turkey, and then next he readily admits that he is part of that camp. The S Africa comparison is a bad one. MB You are spot on thought with your comparison. Now the backlash from the religious is rearing its ugly head.
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