Paul Auster 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Eloy Alonso)
Acclaimed novelist Paul Auster hit back at Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan Wednesday, saying that there are nearly 100 writers falsely imprisoned
in Turkey. Earlier in the week, Auster refused to visit Turkey in protest of the
jailing of the journalists, drawing the ire of Erdogan, who accused the author
of a double standard for supporting Israel.
In a statement, Auster wrote
that “whatever the prime minister [of Turkey] might think about the state of
Israel, the fact is that free speech exists there and no writers or journalists
are in jail... There are nearly 100 writers imprisoned in Turkey, not to speak
of independent publishers such as Ragip Zarakolu, whose case is being closely
watched by PEN Centers around the world.”
Auster is a Jewish-American
author of dozens of highly acclaimed novels.
Earlier in the week, Erdogan
decried Auster’s boycott of Turkey, asking, “If you come so what? If you don’t
come, so what? Will Turkey lose prestige?” Erdogan’s comments drew applause from
provincial leaders of his ruling AK Party at a meeting in the capital
“Supposedly Israel is a democratic, secular country, a country
where freedom of expression and individual rights and freedoms are
What an ignorant man you are,” Erdogan said.
these the ones that rained bombs down on Gaza? The ones that launched phosphorus
bombs and used chemical weapons. How can you not see this?” Erdogan
“This gentleman can’t see the repression and rights violations in
Israel... This is serious disrespect to Turkey.”
Auster announced his
refusal to visit Turkey in an interview with the Istanbul daily Hurriyet
published on Sunday.