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Nobel Literature Prize causes mixed emotions in Turkey


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Istanbul (dpa) - After Orhan Pamuk became the first Turkish author to be awarded the Nobel Literature Prize, there were no masses taking to the streets, no Turkish flags blowing in the wind, and no cavalcades of honking fans.

Quite a few people in Turkey, however, joyfully jumped into the air when they heard the Nobel committee's decision Thursday from Stockholm. Others followed suit, jumped out of their seats, and were about to clap, before they realized what was going on and sat down again in dismay. Others yet remained immobile, perplexed.

"We should applaud Orhan Pamuk like we have applauded our national football team when they came third in the World Cup, like we applauded the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, Sertab Erener," the tabloid Sabah commented Friday.

"An author who writes in Turkish and who has emerged from our midst has won the Nobel Literature Prize. Full stop. The End!," the newspaper commented.

Many Turkish newspaper columnists, however, seemed to be suffering Friday. "If only he had not said those words which have wounded our hearts deeply," Ertugrul Ozkok, editor in chief of Hurriyet wrote.

Ozkok was referring to Pamuk's remarks that during World War I "one million Armenians were killed" in the Ottoman Empire, opening old wounds in his Turkish homeland.

"We are angry at Pamuk because our Turkish soul weighs heavy in us, but for the same reason we are also proud he won the highest literary award," Ozkok wrote.

Like the editor-in-chief of Hurriyet, many asked themselves the question why they weren't able to "just be happy" for Pamuk.

"Has the West chosen Pamuk, not because he is a Turk, but because he defends the West's theses better than the West itself?" a columnist in another newspaper asked, concluding that "at least he wrote his novels in Turkish, even if his thoughts are not Turkish."

Others commented that Turkey was in dire need of more democratic debate. But "criticising in the name of justice and democracy is one thing, and selling out your own country in order to sell books and gain worldwide fame is another," commented the left-leaning daily Milliyet.

There was also some unreserved approval. "Turkey will in the future be regarded as the country of Orhan Pamuk," the liberal- leaning Radical said. "Once again, world attention will focus on Turkey, Turkish literature and Orhan Pamuk's city, Istanbul. Pamuk is an honour for our language, our literature and our country."

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul also saw Pamuk's award in a positive light. The Turkish political debate over the author would soon be forgotten. Much more significant was the worldwide resonance of the Literature Nobel Prize awarded to a Turkish author, he deemed.

Copyright 2006 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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