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20 May, 2009 06:38

Does “Daughters of Allah” insult Islam?

A controversial Turkish writer who faced prosecution 30 years ago for “morally offending the public” is wanted back in the courtroom. Nedim Gursel is accused of insulting Islam with a new book “The Daughters of Allah.”

Gursel’s latest novel describes the advent of Islam in the sixth century. The writer says it’s just a work of fiction and he didn’t mean to offend anyone.

“I don’t really understand this trial, as it is about a novel. The committee of Religious Affairs submitted a report accusing me of blasphemy, but they don’t have the expertise to judge a literary novel,” he said.

If found guilty, the novelist could face up to 1.5 years behind bars.

Ali Emre Bukagili, the civil engineer responsible for filing the lawsuit against the writer, says the author has deeply and intentionally offended Muslims.

“A true believer loves the Prophet more than him or herself. If it was me who was insulted, I wouldn’t be so much offended, but this is beyond a personal insult,” he said.

He says there are more than 60 items in the book which are insulting. Among them are claims the Prophet was an ignorant child, and that as a rich man, he was still not a decent man.

But the writer insists it’s not a historical or religious textbook, and many phrases are taken out of context.

“There are metaphors and images such as these. There is an expression that everyone uses in Turkey: “Karpe fedex”, which means “F…g Fate." It is not an insult, it is just a popular expression that everybody uses, but it has nothing to do with fate,” Nedim Gursel said.

Emre Bukagili argues that the book poses a danger to public security and could spark protests similar to those that happened after the cartoons on the Prophet Mohammed were published in Denmark.

However, among the people RT spoke to, there is more indifference than anger. In fact, the majority have not even read the book.

“I haven’t [read it] and I don’t think it can spark any controversy or a wave of protests in Turkey,” an Istanbul citizen said.

“Freedom is an essential principle, but it cannot be limitless. However, I can’t say much about it because I haven’t read the book,” another one added.

Nedim Gursel’s lawyer, Sehnaz Yuzer, says she is sure the case will be dropped:

“The basic argument that we put forward is that no one can hold a monopoly on the interpretation of religion.”

25 years ago the writer had to leave his country for political reasons and now lives in France, but says he still hopes for justice in his homeland.