Jewish author Auster hits back at Turkish PM

Paul Auster backs his decision to avoid Turkey visit, defends support for Israel.

February 2, 2012 13:22
1 minute read.
Paul Auster

Paul Auster 390. (photo credit: REUTERS/Eloy Alonso)


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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 Ankara.

“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.

“Aren’t 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 said.

“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.

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