Tag: turkey

Turkey Says Inspiring Kids’ Book Should Be Treated like Porn

The Turkish government recently ruled that Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls should be treated like pornography because of its “detrimental influence” on young people.



Published in 2016, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls offers 100 tales of extraordinary women meant to inspire young children. Each story, written by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo in the style of a fairy tale, is accompanied by illustrations from over 60 female artists. The Guardian described it as an “empowering, resolutely ‘anti-princess’ storybook.” It’s been an incredibly popular best-seller and has been published in 47 languages around the world.


Favilli and Cavallo, image via Penguin Books


But in a decision published at the end of September, the Turkish government’s board for the protection of minors from obscene publications said:

Some of the writings in the book will have a detrimental influence on the minds of those under the age of 18.

This means Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls can be sold only to adults and must be kept out of view in bookshops. Essentially, it has to be treated like pornography.


Image Via Amazon


Cavallo responded to the decision, saying:

Girls deserve to grow up surrounded by more female role models. They deserve to grow up thinking that they can be anything they want. When a government is scared by a children’s book promoting equality, that means that promoting these messages through children’s literature can have and is having an impact, and it makes me even more motivated to keep fighting every day.

The Turkish publishers’ association released another statement last week, arguing the government’s decision threatens the principles of a democratic society. And Turkish publisher of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls said it was waiting for the decision to be officially communicated to it before commenting.



Featured Image Via The Guardian

Elif Shafak

Turkey Puts Novelists, Including Elif Shafak, Under Investigation

According to The Guardian Turkish prosecutors have begun investigations into numerous writers of fiction, including famed author Elif Shafak. The campaign has been described as a serious violation of free speech rights, all breaking off from recent, rather vicious debates on social media about authors who write about difficult topics, such as child abuse and sexual violence. After a page from a new novel Abdullah Sevki was shared on Twitter, the novel quickly generated deep controversy when the chapter showcased featured a first person account of a child being sexual assaulted from a sexual predator’s POV. The government of Turkey has issued a formal complaint to ban the book and has charged Abdullah Sevki with criminal acts such as potential child abuse.


Turkey novelist with a close up of her face

Elif Shafak has described the campaign as a serious attack on free speech, having received thousands of abusive messages about her work published in the last few years, which deals with similar themes. She said her work is intended to put a spotlight on sexual violence in Turkey, especially against children, as Turkish courts have dragged their feet actually investigating reported incidents. She notes that instead of going after real life rapists, the Turkish courts are attacking writers instead, using them as a scapegoat without having to actually investigate the true problem.

Numerous speech organizations are deeply concerned about this campaign against Turkish novelists and have been quoted as saying:

“Freedom of expression in Turkey is increasingly under serious threat. Too many writers are in prison whilst others have been forced into exile.”


Shafak was previously tried for her novel, The Bastard of Istanbul, where she referred to the massacre of Armenians in World War I as a war crime and genocide. Shafak acknowledged that she deals with difficult subjects, such as sexual violence, but does not condone it and does the exact opposite with her work. She further notes she has always been a campaigner for women, children, and minority rights.

The campaign into investigating Shafak and other authors like her is sparking an international debate, both over free speech rights and content allowed in novels. What are your thoughts on this complicated issue? This could be easily be a slippery slope to go down for Turkey as a whole.



Featured Image by Random House Books 

Beyazit Library

This Istanbul Library Might Be the Best Building in the World

The Royal Institute of British Architects releases their International List every other year, which gathers buildings from around the world to celebrate their architectural achievements. The 2018 list was just announced, and this time next year a panel of judges will select the recipient of the 2018 RIBA International Prize. One of the buildings under consideration is Turkey’s Beyazit State Library.



Image Via Tabanlioglu Architects


The Istanbul library was converted from a soup kitchen and 16th-century caravanserai and it’s completely gorgeous. Tabanlioglu Architects designed the thoroughly modern library in Beyazit Square, right next to Beyazit Mosque, which was completed back in 1506. The mixture of history and present day is partially what makes Beyazit State Library so fascinating.



Image Via Tabanlioglu Architects


As RIBA president Ben Derbyshire said, the 2018 list “illustrates the meaningful impact and transformative quality that well-designed buildings can have on communities, wherever they are in the world.” No doubt a gorgeous library like Beyazit’s draws crowds and gets people reading. As we know, the more you read, the smarter and more interesting and better looking you are.



Image Via Tabanlioglu Architects


Image Via Tabanlioglu Architects


Hopefully, come 2020, your local library will be pretty enough to be nominated for the RIBA International Prize. Until then, though, maybe book your trip to Istanbul.


Feature Image Via Tabalioglu Architects