Monday, November 14, 2005

I stand by my words

I'm reading Istanbul at the moment, Orhan Pamuk's impressionistic meld of memoir, history and guide to his birthplace. Still living at the age of fifty in the same apartment block in which he was raised and his extended family has long lived, Pamuk comes across as something of a homebody.

A simple orderly life is now a thing of the past. According to The Observer recently:

It began with an off-the-cuff remark in an interview with a Swiss newspaper. While discussing curbs on freedom of expression in Turkey, Pamuk said that 'a million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in this country and I'm the only one who dares to talk about it'.
Last August, an Istanbul public prosecutor charged him with the 'public denigration of Turkish identity'. The trial is set for 16 December. If convicted, Pamuk faces three years in prison.
There was a time when an offence like "public denigration of Turkish identity" would have sounded sound preposterous in the United Kingdom. That time is long gone, and the 'Racial and Religious Hatred Bill' is going to take us further down the slippery slope.

Paul Goggins is the Home Office Minister who has the unenviable task of steering this bill through Parliament. He is the Parliamentary Under Secretary who assists Minister of State Hazel Blears who is responsible for policing, security and community safety under the Home Secretary, Charles Clarke.

As I wrote yesterday, I'm going to get a chance to meet him later this month to talk about the Bill. As part of my research, I've found an interview and brief profile of him in the Tablet.

No comments: