Grow up, Turkey

No word of a lie, I was sitting back in bed reading Louis de Bernières Birds without Wings, about Turkey, about Kemal Mestafa, about Christians, about Muslims, about the Ottoman Empire, and tragically about the Armenians. Then I had an epiphany; I needed to refill my wine glass.

Upon refilling said wine glass, I got a 'breaking news feed' from the Telegraph. None other than the man himself;

Sir - It should be pointed out that Turkey still has repressive laws which make it incompatible with the European Union (letter, October 5). For example, it is against the law in Turkey to publish anything that might be construed as critical of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

My own book, Birds Without Wings, had to be tinkered with by my Turkish publishers. I don't blame them for being sensible, because it was their heads that would have been on the block. The irony is that Ataturk himself, who was desperate to westernise the country, would have been completely contemptuous of this law.

Because of this law, it is impossible to have a proper historical discussion about Ataturk. As Orhan Pamuk has found out, it is also impossible to have a proper discussion about almost everything, because there is another law against saying anything that might be taken as denigratory to the Turkish state.

Pamuk, who is probably Turkey's greatest writer and best ambassador, faces a prison sentence for mentioning the Kurdish and Armenian issues. Every other country has had to take on the difficult task of facing up to its past - this is part of the process of becoming mature. It is high time that Turkey grew up in the same way and stopped making itself look backward and ridiculous.

Louis de Bernières, Harleston, Norfolk

And this is from the man with singing praises from The Independent no less!

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