Mr. Pamuk is accused of a committing a crime by mentioning, in an interview with a Swiss newspaper, that "a million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds" were killed in Turkey after World War I. The Armenian massacres are a widely documented fact. But it is an officially taboo subject in Turkey; and the government, nationalist political groups and press immediately joined in attacking Mr. Pamuk....
So what explains this latest Turkish assault on free speech? It won't do to blame religious extremists. Most of Mr. Pamuk's detractors belong to the political right wing, which in Turkey means that they are determined secularists. The prosecutor who instigated the legal proceedings belongs to a longstanding secular Turkish state that has cracked down on Muslim women wearing headscarves more harshly than has France.
December 16, 2005
Pankaj Mishra writes: