Melon Farmers Original Version

Book Censorship in Turkey

Freedom of speech under duress


Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls...

Turkish censors give adults only rating for a children's book, presumably not liking the idea of rebelling against against a male dominated society

Link Here 5th October 2019
Turkey has ruled that the million-selling book Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls will be age restricted and treated like pornography because it could have a detrimental influence on young people.

The book, which has been published in 47 languages, offers a series of inspiring stories about women from history for young children, from British nurse Florence Nightingale to French designer Coco Chanel to singer Beyonce.

But the Turkish government's censorship board for the protection of minors from obscene publications claimed:

Some of the writings in the book will have a detrimental influence on the minds of those under the age of 18. That means it can only be sold to over-18s and must be concealed from view in shops.

Speaking to AFP, one of the authors, Francesca Cavallo, said she was saddened by the decision. She sad:

Girls deserve to grow up surrounded by more female role models. They deserve to grow up thinking that they can be anything they want

When a government is scared by a children's book promoting equality, that means that promoting these messages through children's literature can have and is having an impact, and it makes me even more motivated to keep fighting every day.



Offsite Article: Fear of being jailed...

Link Here26th January 2019
Censorship spreads to Turkey's publishing houses. By Ahmet Kulsoy

See article from



Offsite Article: Read all about it...Not...

Link Here14th May 2018
Turkish court bans nine books on Kurds, ranging from genocide, Barzani, and Mahabad to Ezidi faith

See article from



Update: Sword of Damocles...

Turkey Suspends, but does not drop, the prosecution of a classic French erotic novel

Link Here18th December 2013
An Istanbul court has suspended the trial of a Turkish publisher and a translator accused of supposedly corrupting public morals over a French book written over a century ago.

The prosecution of the novel, The Exploits of a Young Don Juan, by French surrealist Guillaume Apollinaire is the latest in a series of trials restricting freedom of expression in Turkey.

The court suspended the case against publisher Irfan Sanci and translator Ismail Yerguz for three years, citing a technicality in the Turkish penal code.

But the ruling disappointed the defendants and their lawyers, who said they were expecting a full acquittal. Sanci's lawyer Adem Sakal told AFP that the defendants are considering taking their case to the European Court of Human Rights. Sanci vowed that he would continue publishing the book, but said:

This decision is like the Sword of Damocles over my head.

In 2009, a local court in Istanbul filed a complaint over the obscene content in the book, which chronicles the sexual awakening of a 15-year-old boy. The complaint was dismissed when a committee of academics concluded that the book should be considered a genuine work of literature, but in August, an appeals court overturned the decision, ruling that it lacked any artistic or literary value .



Update: A Heritage of Censorship...

Turkish Supreme Court censors French erotic novel

Link Here 7th August 2013

Turkey's Supreme Court of Appeals has overturned a previous ruling of acquittals of supposed obscenity regarding Guillaume Apollinaire's The Exploits of Young Don Juan .

Ruling that the previous ruling was unlawful , Supreme Court of Appeals said the book could not be considered within the freedom of expression.

Irfan Sanci, owner of Sel Publishing House, told bianet:

It is impossible to agree with Supreme Court of Appeals verdict. On the other hand, Guillaume Apollinaire's written works have been recognized as world heritage by European Parliament. In a way, they are prosecuting the world heritage here.

We don't appreciate the fact that experts are to determine whether a book is literary or not. This decision can only be made by readers, publishers and editors. You can't say a book is literary because the court said so. However, we applied to court for expert report after a report by Prime Ministry Protecting Youngsters From Obscene Publications Council.

Previously, publishing house owner Irfan Sanci and translator Ismail Yerguz stood trial for translating and publishing supposedly obscene material. Istanbul 2nd Assize Court acquitted the book, saying that it didn't include any crime elements. The case was sent to Supreme Court of Appeal. The chamber unanimously overthrew the previous ruling, ordering a new trial.

The Supreme Court censors explained their verdict:

The aforementioned book in trial included content with no story frame and solely simple expression to arouse sexual instincts. Through the narrative of children, it uses a language where anal, lesbian, unnatural and bestial relations are depicted. Those expressions degrades society's general moral values, provoked and violated sexual desires, and disgusted readers with depictions of characters' excretion. The aforementioned book was not based on artistic point of view. It is unacceptable that a French translation including pervert expression on family members, same sexes and animals could be considered as symbol of open-mindedness within the borders of expression freedom in a democratic society.



Update: A Legal Fix...

Irvine Welsh's Porno is unbanned in Turkey

Link Here17th February 2013

Irvine Welsh has told of his delight after a ban on the sale of his book Porno in Turkey was overturned.

The follow-up to his best-selling hit Trainspotting was banned a decade ago because of its supposedly obscene content.

Turkish company Studio Image Publishers was taken to court along with the book's translator in 2002 and charged under obscenity laws with publishing pornographic material . They were found guilty and fined more than £ 1 million, but appealed against the verdict.

However, the ban has now been lifted following a lengthy legal battle and the book is back on the shelves.



Update: Immoral Censorship...

Turkey seeks to censor John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men on moral grounds

Link Here3rd January 2013

The Publishers Union of Turkey has protested against a request by a national education ministry commission in Izmir province to censor John Steinbeck's masterpiece Of mice and man. The union said in a statement:

We are finding it hard to understand that actually ministry officials formed a commission to investigate the book for moral standards and then propose censorship on it. This is another embarrassing example of the censure mentality in Turkey. And hopefully it will be the last one.

Steinbeck's masterpiece is actually listed among the 100 basic readings by the education ministry. It is also one of the most read novels in Turkey at all times.

The union urged the education minister Omer Dincer to implement of laws to prevent such absurd commissions, saying that such censure practices violated the freedom of expression.

Sel Publishing House, handling the Turkish translation, reiterated the union's protes complaining that universally acclaimed masterpieces could just be prosecuted in Turkey for subjective moral reasons. Sel said in a statement:

The commission already identified the passage needing censorship on a page by page and publisher house to publisher house manner. The identified passages have been submitted to ministry's support service unit.


16th October

Update: Generally Repugnant Book Censorship...

Turkey to prosecute publisher and translator of Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk on obscenity charges

Two books by American authors are currently on trial in Turkey on obscenity charges which could lead to imprisonment for their publishers and translators.

The publisher and translator of the Turkish translation of The Soft Machine by William Burroughs are on trial with the latest hearing held on 11 October. The case was brought following an investigation by the Board for Protection of Minors from Obscene Publications. The Board pronounced the book as not compatible with the morals of society and the people's honour , injurious to sexuality and generally repugnant .

In September 2011, another publisher and translator were told that they will be brought to trial, also on charges of obscenity under Article 266, this time for the Turkish translation of a contemporary work, Snuff , by American writer Chuck Palahniuk. The book had been brought before the Board for the Protection of Children from Obscene Publications in May 2011 which judged that there were grounds for indictment. The publisher was also accused of releasing the book, without warning and with no precautions to ensure that children did not read it. If found guilty, the owner of the Ayrinti Publishing House, Hasan Basri Ciplak and the book's translator, Funda Uncu, could be imprisoned for between six months and three years.

PEN Turkey has protested the decision to press charges against the publishers of the book, and nominated Snuff as the Centre's Book of the Month in reaction to the accusation.

The book, published in 2008 to mixed reviews, is a satire on the American pornography industry. The Board has deemed the book as immoral. In her defence, translator Uncu pointed out that Palahniuk is a world-renowned author and argued that rather than being pornography, the book is a critique of the commoditisation of women .

...English Pen makes a call for action against these prosecutions. See  details from


16th July

 Offsite: Turkey Bugged by Burroughs...

Obscenity trial starts for publisher of William Burroughs' The Soft Machine

See article from


19th May

Update: Soft on Censorship...

Turkey prosecutes publisher of William Burroughs novel for obscenity

A Turkish publisher is currently facing obscenity charges for releasing an edition of William Borroughs' novel, The Soft Machine . The book features scenes of drug addiction and homosexuality.

A winner of the International Publishers Association's Freedom to Publish prize, Irfan Sanci has previously been sued under Article 226 of the Turkish penal code, for publishing books including Guillaume Apollinaire's Adventures of the Young Don Juan, but was acquitted in December.

He and his translator are now facing further obscenity charges for publishing 2,500 copies of a Turkish edition of the Burroughs novel in January, which could mean a jail sentence of up to nine years.

The International Publishers Association called the situation mind-blowing and disappointing and called for Sanci and his translator's immediate acquittal, saying that the obscenity charges violate Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European convention on human rights. Last year Turkey was found guilty of violating the article by the European court of human rights when it banned Apollinaire's erotic novel The Eleven Thousand Rods.

The Soft Machine develops attitudes that were permissive to crime by concentrating on the banal, vulgar and weak attributes of humanity , according to a report by the Turkish Prime Ministerial Board for the Protection of Children from Harmful Publications, quoted in Turkish paper Hurriyet. The Council also accused the novel of incompliance with moral norms and hurting people's moral feelings .

IPA Freedom to Publish Committee chair Bjorn Smith-Simonsen called the prosecution undemocratic, anachronistic and unworthy of a modern and open society ... Sanci is being harassed for doing his publisher's job. At a time when freedom to publish conditions deteriorate again in Turkey, it is urgent to stop these practices and to leave Irfan Sanci alone.


26th October

Update: Unerotic Repression...

Turkish publisher on trial for sexual content gets freedom award from the International Publishing Association

The Geneva-based International Publishing Association (IPA) will award its freedom prize to Irfan Sanci on Nov. 2.

Before he receives the award, however, Sanci must appear in an Istanbul court on allegations that one of the books he has published has inappropriate sexual content.

Irfan Sanci, the owner of Sel Publishing House, is on trial for publishing a book with sexual content by French writer Guilliame Apollinare.

There is nothing to say about what's going on. I am being punished in my own country but am also getting an international award. This is tragic, Sanci, the owner of Sel Publishing House, told the Hrriyet Daily News.

Everything aside, Apollinare's book, which is a part of the world's cultural heritage, is being tried for hurting the public's sense of shame, he said.

In May 2010, despite expert reports from the Galatasaray and Bahçesehir Universities concluding that the books were works of literature, an Istanbul court decided to send the three books to the Prime Ministerial Board for the Protection of Children from Harmful Publications for review to determine whether they constitute literature or obscenity, IPA Freedom to Publish Committee Chair Bjorn Simonsen told the Daily News. The news hearing is due on Nov. 2. This is potential political censorship. We therefore call for Sel's acquittal.

Sanci published Perinin Sarkaci (The Fairy's Pendulum) by a young female academic writing under the pen name Ben Mila, as well as Apollinaire's A dventures of the Young Don Juan , P.V.'s Letters of a Learned and Well-mannered French Bourgeois Lady and Spanish writer Juan Manuel de Prada's The Pussy.

The books, however, were sued in accordance with the law for protecting minors from harmful publications.


20th February

Update: Culturally Immoral...

ECHR rule against Turkey's ban on book considered part of European literary heritage

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) convicted Turkey of a violation of freedom of expression in the context of the book The Eleven Thousand Rods (Les onze mille verges) by French writer Guillaume Apollinaire published in 1907. The book was censored in Turkey and its publisher, Hades Publishing owner Rahmi Akdas,, was convicted by a Turkish court.

The decision was announced by the ECHR on 16 February. The court declared that there nothing to say against the protection of moral values. Nevertheless, Acknowledgment of the cultural, historical and religious particularities of the Council of Europe's member States could not go so far as to prevent public access in a particular language, in this instance Turkish, to a work belonging to the European literary heritage .

Publisher Akdas was sentenced to a monetary fine of 684 Turkish Lira (TL) on the grounds of obscenity and harming inner feelings of the people by publishing the work which contains graphic descriptions of scenes of sexual intercourse, even though it is a fictional work. On 11 March 2004, the Court of Appeals approved the decision and decreed for the seizure and destruction of all copies of the book.


15th May

Uncultured Book Censors...

Turkey gets its knickers in a twist over erotic literature

A Turkish publisher said that he and a translator had been indicted after a prosecutor judged three erotic books, including one by renowned French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, to be obscene.

The books in question were Apollinaire's The Exploits of a Young Don Juan, Turkish writer Ben Mila's The Fairy's Pendulum and a collection of writings by various authors published in Turkish as Letters from an Informed and Experienced Bourgeoise Woman , Irfan Sanci, owner of Sel Publishing, said.

The courtcase was launched under a penal code article that criminalises the dissemination of obscene material deemed of no literary value but which excludes scientific and literary works from its scope, Sanci said.

The courtcase came after so-called experts contacted by the prosecutor said these three books were not literary works, Sanci told AFP.

A fourth book by Spanish writer Juan Manuel de Prada escaped prosecution as the same experts decided it was a literary work, he added.

The publisher condemned the case as a violation of freedom of expression and said it cast a shadow on the Muslim majority but secular country that is seeking European Union membership.

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