First Published: 2007-09-10

Nobel Prize author: Iraq war 'major disaster' for West

Turkish author Orhan Pamuk says prestige of Western civilisation ruined by 'horrors and injustice' of war.


Middle East Online

Pamuk: ‘one of the major disasters in the last three or four decades’

TURIN, Italy - The Iraqi war was a disaster for the US and its allies and had undermined support for democracy and secularism in the Islamic world, Nobel Prize-winning Turkish author Orhan Pamuk told Adnkronos International (AKI).

On a visit to Italy, Pamuk said the prestige of Western civilisation had been ruined by the 'horrors and injustice' of the war and it had poisoned relations between the Arab world and the US and its European allies.

"I think it is one of the major disasters in the last three or four decades, this war in Iraq. It's destroyed a peaceful approach in the Middle East towards democracy, towards human rights, western values and women's liberation," Pamuk told AKI.

He was visiting the northern city of Turin for a lecture organised by the Premio Grinzane Cavour, a prestigious Italian literary prize that he won in 2002.

Pamuk said Muslim countries were also suffering from simplistic perceptions in the West that associated Islam with terrorism, suicide killings and bombings.

"The common cliche is that Islam is a terrorist religon," he said. "It is upsetting for civilisation and serves only American military interests."

Addressing several hundred book lovers at the Palazzo Chiablese, he spoke about the historic role of the West in defining Turkey's identity - often to the country's shame.

Asked about the recent election of Turkey's Islamist-rooted president Abdullah Gul, he was cautiously optimistic.

“I don't know how Gul will behave when he is in power," Pamuk told Adnkronos. "I hope, as he said, that he defends freedom of speech, freedom, that is good. But I also expect him to defend secularism and we hope to see that."

Politics is dangerous territory for the 55-year-old author. In 2005 he faced criminal charges in Turkey for comments he made in a Swiss publication about the mass killings of Armenians and Kurds in 1915. The charges were later dropped.

"Politics happens to me, sometimes I get angry and tell the truth," Pamuk said, without referring to the incident. "Sometimes I am nervous about injustice, but essentially, spiritually, I am not a political man. Most of the time I am a man who falls into political situations."

Pamuk is one of Turkey's best selling authors and his books have been translated into more than 40 languages.

He has won many national and international literary awards including America's Pulitzer Prize. Last year he became the first Turkish writer to win the Nobel Prize – his crowning achievement - but one, he says, without any political obligations.

"It is the greatest distinction an author can achieve in his literary career -but it's that," he said. "I don't see any social connotation – I'm happy just like a child is happy with his ice cream. I am happy with my prize."



US warns Iran over imprisoned Americans

Saudi King sets up new state security agency

Kuwait protests to Lebanon over Hezbollah training

30 extremists in Sinai operations

Foreign food chains hoping for taste of Iran market

Three Palestinians shot dead in Jerusalem

Nearly 360 injured in Turkey by magnitude 6.7 quake

UN says Saudi to blame for deadly Yemen strike on civilians

Police fire tear gas to disperse Morocco protest

Germany reviews arms sales to Turkey

Hezbollah launches Syria border operation

China calls for Gulf crisis talks

Israel bars men under 50 from Jerusalem Old City prayers

Intensifying Jihadist-rebel clashes in Syria's Idlib

Rebel ambush kills 28 regime fighters near Damascus

Turkey slams 'dangerous' Cyprus energy plans

Saudi prince 'arrested over leaked abuse videos'

Israel boosts 'security measures' as Al-Aqsa tensions simmer

Kuwait expels Iranian diplomats over 'terror' cell

Germany vows to overhaul Turkey ties as row escalates

Home cooked meals a relief for fighters in Syria's Raqa

US maintains designation of Iran as top 'state sponsor'

US halting support for Syria rebels

30 civilians dead in anti-IS strikes in Syria

Palestinian civilians urge ICC to speed up probe

Turkey PM opts for stability in light cabinet reshuffle

UN aid flight carrying journalists barred from Yemen

Former IS slaves fight for revenge in Raqa

US, Iran trade tit-for-tat sanctions

20 Yemeni civilians killed in air strike

14 killed in opposition infighting in Syria's Idlib

Morocco sentences 25 to prison over W. Sahara killings

Egypt police kill top militants

Heavy rainfall hits Istanbul causing transport chaos

Palestinians protest Israeli security measures at Al-Aqsa compound

Saudi police question woman who wore miniskirt

Rebels, US-backed Kurds clash in northern Syria

Netanyahu says Hungary is 'standing up for' Israel

Lebanon army to launch operation near Syria border

Morocco delays currency reform amid speculation

Iran parliament vows to fight US 'adventurism'

4 killed in suicide car bomb at Kurdish checkpoint in Syria

Israel opposes Syria truce deal over Iran presence

Egypt to end visas on arrival for Qatari citizens

Erdogan to visit Qatar, Saudi Arabia