Turkish Leader Resists Nixing Insult Law

Jan Sliva, AP, October 3, 2007

Turkey’s new president called Wednesday for changes to a law that makes it a crime to insult Turkish identity—legislation the European Union wants the country to scrap.

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“We know there are problems with regard to Article 301. There’s still room for improvement and there are changes to be enacted in the period ahead,” President Abdullah Gul told reporters at the Council of Europe. “I support the idea of Article 301 to change.”

Gul has said the law damages Turkey’s image by portraying it as a country where intellectuals are jailed for speaking their opinion. On Wednesday, he lamented an “unfair perception” that people were imprisoned because of the law.

“No one is going to prison for expressing their view freely,” he told with parliamentarians from the human rights watchdog’s 47 member states.

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“All forms of discrimination are banned. Legal and constitutional guarantees on the right to association and assembly are reinforced. Cultural and religious rights have been upgraded,” he said.

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