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Author Nedim Gürsel acquitted of "humiliating" religion

(WiPC/IFEX) - 9 July 2009 - International PEN's Writers in Prison Committee is delighted to learn of the acquittal on 25 June 2009 of Nedim Gürsel who was on trial for his book Daughters of Allah. Accused of "incitement to hatred" under article 216 of the Turkish Penal Code, clause 3 of which refers to acts that "humiliate the religious values of part of the population", he faced up to a year in prison if convicted. The case against Gürsel, opened on 5 May 2009, was condemned by PEN members worldwide as a blatant breach of the right to free expression.

According to reports, the court concluded that the book did not incite hostility and violence, adding that the novel is set in the past, spanning the Prophet Muhammed's lifetime to the First World War so it could not be seen to pose an imminent danger to peace. Also, according to the Istanbul based free expression monitor, Bianet, "judge Hakki Yalçinkaya argued that the excerpts cited in the complaint were misleading. Thus the expression, 'Allah's daughters, lying stretched out, completely naked' was to be found neither on page 120 of the book nor anywhere else. The expression 'Allah's beloved subjects' on page 120 was wrongly cited as 'Allah's lovers' in the complaint."

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