The murder last week of Turkish-Armenian editor Hrant Dink continues to make waves in Turkey, with the country's powerful Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association joining in national and international calls for the immediate scrapping of a law that makes it a crime "to belittle Turkishness." But the increasingly aggressive nationalism that characterizes Trabzon, the port city that is home to Dink's suspected killer, suggests that the campaign to overturn the law could face an uphill struggle.
Article 301, as the law is called, "laid the groundwork for the assassination," said Mustafa Koç, a member of the Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD) and the chairman of the board of Koç Holding, Turkey's largest and most influential business group. Those who support the law, he added, speaking at the January 25 annual meeting of the TUSIAD high council, "are trying to block transition . . . resist renewal . . . surrender themselves to the current authoritarian atmosphere."
Taken to court by the same ultra-nationalists who targeted Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk, Dink, the editor-in-chief of Agos newspaper, received a six-month suspended prison sentence under the law in October 2005. In the last article he ever published, the editor described the trial as a turning point in his life, writing that the law had prompted "a significant segment of the population . . . [to] view [me] as someone
Nicholas Birch specializes in Turkey, Iran and the Middle East.