Pamuk calls for respect for people's choice in elections

Orhan Pamuk (Photo: Reuters)

April 30, 2012, Monday/ 15:58:00

In an interview with a German daily, Turkish Nobel literature laureate Orhan Pamuk spoke out in support of democracy, saying that the people's choice should be respected even if this choice is in favor of “religiously oriented” parties.

Pamuk stated in the interview published on Sunday in Der Tagesspiegel that people in various cultures in the East read his books with an interest in how Turkey reconciles its ancient cultural traditions with European modernism, and people in Europe read the same books with an interest in Islam, which they see as Turkey's main problem. Pamuk adds that the increased attention paid by the Western media to Turkey in recent years reflects a Western fear of Islam and recalls the time when the same media focused on Latin America because of the Western fear of communism.

Asked what he thinks of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and Turkey's progress under its rule, Pamuk said: “Do not be afraid of the people's choice. Democracy means respect for people's decisions and freedoms, even if the choice is in favor of religiously oriented parties,” adding that the military should not intervene in politics when people do make such choices.

Pamuk further stated that he is glad if Turkey currently acts as a model democracy for other countries with a “religiously oriented” party in power. The author believes these countries can achieve democracy if they adopt Western values and rules and expressed his doubts about people claiming to establish local forms of democracy, which he thinks generally involves putting forward old-fashioned, authoritarian ideas in disguise.

When asked to comment on the changes in the Arab world, Pamuk expressed happiness about democratic developments in Arab countries such as Tunisia and Egypt.

The Nobel laureate also said he is very happy about the realization of his long-nurtured dream of creating an actual “Museum of Innocence,” now open in Çukurcuma, a neighborhood in İstanbul's Beyoğlu district. The museum features hundreds of objects and ephemera related to the characters and events Pamuk recounts in his 2008 novel of the same name.

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