The list of people on trial in Turkey (from converted Christians to Nobel Prize winners) is growing so fast that it would take an entire blog about Article 301 to tell what is really going on.

In short, Turkey has become totally totalitarian.

Posted on Mon, Dec. 04, 2006

University suspends Turkish professor
Associated Press

ANKARA, Turkey – A university has suspended one of its professors for remarks he made about Turkey's revered founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, an official said Monday.

The suspension of professor Atilla Yayla has brought into sharp focus the country's ambivalence toward freedom of speech even as it intensifies its campaign to join the European Union.

Ankara's Gazi University suspended Yayla last week after the political scientist criticized Ataturk at a conference in the Aegean coastal city of Izmir, an official at the state-run university said on condition of anonymity because civil servants are barred from speaking to reporters without prior authorization.

News reports said the professor was suspended after he referred to the late soldier-statesman as "that man," criticized the statues and pictures of Ataturk adorning government offices, and said an era of one-party rule under Ataturk had led to "regression rather than progress."

Turkey's European Union membership bid looks increasingly troubled over what European officials say is a slowdown in reforms, including in free speech, and on Turkey's refusal to open up its ports and airports to EU member Cyprus. The European Commission recommended last week that the EU freeze negotiations on eight of 35 policy areas in Turkey's membership talks, which began in October 2005.

Earlier this year, novelist Orhan Pamuk was forced to stand trial, after a group of ultra-nationalist lawyers accused him of "insulting Turkishness" for telling a Swiss newspaper that 1 million Armenians were killed on Turkish territory. The trial was dropped on a technicality under heavy pressure from the European Union. Pamuk later won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Ataturk founded secular and Westward-looking Turkey from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire in 1923, after saving the country from invading Western powers.

Regulations require that his portraits hang in government offices and schools, but the affection of Turks is so great toward their founder that many also hang his picture in their homes, shops and offices.

At the same time, more and more Turks are questioning his legacy and the rigid way some of his followers – hard-liners inside the military, the bureaucracy and the judiciary – are interpreting his principles to oppose liberal reforms and change.

The university's chancellor on Monday defended his decision to temporarily suspend Yayla until an investigation is completed.

A professor "does not have to like Ataturk but I cannot allow a person who is opposed to the Republic's main principles to educate students," Yamac told Vatan newspaper in an interview published Monday.

Yayla's comments have divided Turkey. A group of protesters sent Yamac a parcel containing sticky tape over the weekend, so that he may "gag professors." Others petitioned the university saying Yayla should not be allowed to teach.