A group of Turkish and non-turkish intellectuals issued a statement titled “Sevan Nishanyan is not Alone” in support of Istanbul-Armenian linguist Sevan Nishanyan, who was sentenced to 13.5 months of imprisonment only for the Prophet Muhammad.
37 intellectuals have already signed the statement. Among them are Ragip Zarakolu, Sait Çetinoglu, Ismail Besikçi, Garo Kaprielian, Ali Nesin and many other distinguished figurs.
We protest the thirteen and a half months of sentencing of Sevan Nishanyan charged with the pretext that he does not interpret Islamic mythology like the Islamists. After Fazil Say, who has been also punished because of Omar Khayyam’s poetry, the punishment of the writer, linguist and researcher Nisanyan is not only a strong indication that Sunni Islam’s intolerance in Turkey is not only widespread at state level but has become clearly the official opinion.
It is also necessary to interpret Egemen Bagis’s, the Turkish Europe minister’s, obscene comparision of the Swedish parliament’s resolution of Seyfo (Assyrian Genocide) as being “masturbation” in the same context – a statement he made during a meeting with the Assyrian/Syriac representatives in Sweden. In addition, the recent prison sentences of Necati Abay, the representative of the Solidarity Platform with Imprisoned Journalists for 11 years and three months, the sentencing of the former editor of the newspaper Azadiya Welat, Ibrahim Güvenç, for more than 10 years (10 years and 3 months and 22 days) can be seen as another evidence that freedom of expression faces new restrictions in Turkey.
We learn from an article of Mehmet Y. Yilmaz, who writes about an anecdote attributed to the Minister of Culture and appearing in the Hurriyet newspaper dated from 13 May 2013 under the title ‘anecdote’ the following: The Prime Minister Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a meeting of the so-called ‘wise men’ is cited saying, that Ömer Celik, the Minister of Culture, meant God when saying that even he cannot do anything against defamation, while Erdogan said of himself that they call him the father of Jesus – as told in the anecdote, which only trigged smiles.
It is scandalous that a minister of the AKP insults billions of Christians around the world as well as distorts Christian view about the Holy Trinity with rude comments while he is supported by Erdogan. It is macabre that such statements are made in meeting with the so-called ‘wise men’ aimed to promote peace, whereas no one opposes. While Erdogan is still insulting Yezidis, Alevis, Zoroastrians and other religions, Islamic intolerance is evidently executed by exorbitant penalties of the Turkish Republic as it is obvious in the case of Nishanyan, who only rejected to accept Islamic mythology as is.
We, the undersigned, demand the immediate withdrawal of this conviction and of similar inquisitory decisions that may follow. We demand that life assurance must be given to Sevan Nishanyan and freedom of expression is fully supported as written in the constitution.
Critique of religions is meantime part of the liberty of thoughts and freedom of religion which are fundamental human rights. We want to emphasize that such decisions unfortunately encourage terrorists at a time where Islamic terrorism is spreading and threatening the world’s peace.
We ask all concerned people in the world to speak out against this ridiculous decision.
We declare that we are concerned about Sevan Nishanyan, Fazil Say, Necati Abay, Abraham Güvenç and other persecuted friends for their thoughts. Join us, raise your voice, because it is about dignity and our all future …
Adnan Chalma Kulhan
Basim Altundag Barhe
A. Aydin Dogan
Dr. Ali Kiliç