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BOOKS > Turkish court says French book ‘too explicit’

ISTANBUL - Anadolu Agency

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Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals unanimously overturned previous ruling of acquittals of the publisher and translator of a French book, stating some of book’s context failed to fall under freedom of speech due to its perversion. 

French author Guillaume Apollinaire’s book, “The Exploits of Young Don Juan” (Les exploits d’un jeune Don Juan), in particular gave to detailed accounts of “unnatural sexual intercourse” with no “form of a plotline,” according to court, therefore failed to constitute a case for freedom of speech. 

Sel Publishing’s owner İrfan Sancı and translator İsmail Yerguz were initially taken to court over the explicit nature of the book following the book’s release, but an Istanbul court has granted them acquittal, describing the book as a work of literature. 

The Supreme Court however overturned where the ruling on the grounds that freedom of speech had to include “a sense of responsibility,” instead demanding Sancı and Yerguz to be tried with a possible sentence of six to ten years. 

“During the exertions of freedoms, one has to move with a sense of responsibility, and such freedoms can come under limitations and rules which aim to prevent disorder, preserve the society’s morals and general health,” the court stated. 

The book aimed to “exploit and arouse the sexual desires and harm the modesty of the society,” and contained “a vulgar and simple language.”

The translation and the publishing of the book “cannot be seen as acts of freedom of speech,” according to court’s decision, which added that the book “contained statements that reached levels of perversion towards mothers, aunts, siblings, members of the same sex and animals.” 

The court also cited a 1976 ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Handyside v. United Kingdom, where the court has ruled freedom of speech not to be applicable due to the nature of the context on trial. The publisher, Richard Handyside, was fined 25 pounds for each summons, and an extra 110 pounds for the legal costs.

August/06/2013

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