International PEN is pleased to learn of the June 25, 2009 acquittal of Nedim Gürsel, who was on trial for his book Daughters of Allah. Accused of “incitement to hatred” under Article 216 (3) of the Turkish Penal Code, 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, which opened on May 5, 2009, was condemned by PEN members worldwide as a blatant breach of the right to free expression.

Background Information

According to reports, the court concluded that Daughters of Allah did not incite hostility and violence, adding that the novel is set in the past, spanning the Prophet Muhammad’s lifetime to the First World War, so it could not be seen as an imminent danger to peace. Also, according to the Istanbul-based free expression monitor, Bianet, “Judge Hakký Yalçýnkaya 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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Thank you to all who sent appeals.