Turkey's PM takes aim at writer Paul Auster over Israel

February 1, 2012 17:50

ISTANBUL - Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan branded acclaimed novelist Paul Auster as ignorant on Tuesday for refusing to visit Turkey in protest at the jailing of journalists, accusing the Jewish American writer of double-standards for visiting Israel.

"Supposedly Israel is a democratic, secular country, a country where freedom of expression and individual rights and freedoms are limitless. What an ignorant man you are," Erdogan said of 64-year-old Auster, author of The New York Trilogy and more than a dozen other novels.

Though a foreign novelist made an easy target, there is rising unease over press freedom under Erdogan among Turkish liberals, many of whom had supported his mission to strengthen democracy and tame Turkey's coup-making generals.

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