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Turkish foreign minister backs changing state slander penal code provision

[JURIST] Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul [official website, English version] has called for change to the controversial Article 301 [Amnesty backgrounder; JURIST news archive] of Turkey's penal code, which makes "insulting the Turkish identity" a crime. Gul, who last December conceded that the law could be changed if necessary [JURIST report] to protect Turkey's reputation, admitted Wednesday that the law in its current state causes problems. On Friday, Turkish-Armenian author Hrant Dink, journalist and editor of the newspaper Agos [media website, English version], was shot and killed [JURIST report] in Istanbul. In October 2005, Dink was given a six-months suspended sentence [JURIST report] for his conviction of violating Article 301, but his conviction was subsequently overturned.

Other writers such as Turkish novelist Elif Shafak [personal website] and Orhan Pamuk [JURIST news archive] have all been charged under Article 301 for discussing the alleged Armenian genocide. Gul criticized the state's case [JURIST report] against Pamuk last year, calling his prosecution for "public denigration of Turkish identity" contrary to the efforts of the government to extend greater individual rights to citizens, including freedom of religion and expression. Turkey, which hopes to join the EU, faces pressure from the EU to abolish Article 301 [JURIST report] because it infringes upon the freedom of expression. The New York Times has more.

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