Turkish Prof. Atilla Yayla's trial continues

Facing up to three years in prison for allegedly insulting Atatürk and his legacy, Professor Atilla Yayla continues to stand trial.

Turkish Prof. Atilla Yayla's trial continues

Facing up to three years in prison for allegedly insulting Ataturk and his legacy, Professor Atilla Yayla continues to stand trial.

The accused, a political science professor at Ankara's Gazi University, was present during the hearing held by the 8th Criminal Court of the First Instance of Izmir. Nuray Kaya, a reporter for a local newspaper published in Izmir who called Yayla a "traitor" in her news report, spoke at the hearing.

Kaya said she had attended the meeting where Professor Yayla made his speech. She said, "Professor Yayla made a detailed speech about Europe and Turkey. At a certain part of his speech he said, "Kemalism means backwardness rather than progress." During the question and answer part, I asked him to expand on his statement. He said that I had understood it correctly."

Kaya also claimed, "He actually uttered the words I quoted in my report, which I don't remember verbatim now, starting with, "They will ask us in the future why there are pictures of this man [Ataturk] everywhere." On the date in question, I did not have my voice recording device or my camera with me."

She confirmed that the news report in question did belong to her and maintained that she just made into a report what she heard at the meeting.

After Kaya, Professor Yayla spoke to the court and said, "In that speech, I did not speak about Atatürk or his legacy. I talked about Kemalism. I said, "The republic is said to have saved us from the medieval ages; this is controversial.’ And as for the controversial nature of this argument, I said, "They [Europeans] will ask us why there are pictures and statues of Ataturk everywhere."

Yayla added that what was published in Yeni Asır, the local paper in question, was a commentary, and not an objective news article, where the problem stemmed from.

"Did you yourself write the news report entirely? Did you write the title, where our client is called a traitor?" Yayla's lawyers asked her. She said, "I wrote the news report, but it wasn’t me who wrote the title."

The court has decreed that Ali Bulaç, a famous columnist for the Zaman newspaper, and three other people who organized and attended the meeting be present during the next hearing.

After one of the initial hearings, Yeni Asır was forced to retract the news article it published on Yayla, publish the court’s verdict and write, "Yayla cannot be called a traitor."

Yayla said during his participation in a panel discussion on Nov. 18, 2006, titled "The European Union and the Social Effects of its Relations with Turkey," organized by the Izmir youth branch of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), that the era of one-party rule under Ataturk, from 1925 to 1945, was not as progressive as the official ideology would have Turks believe but was "regressive in some respects."

Today's Zaman

Last Mod: 03 Temmuz 2007, 14:42
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