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Defamation Suit in Turkey Focuses on Holocaust Denial

July 22, 1996
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A Turkish author is suing for defamation of character because of an opinion piece that accuses him of being a Holocaust denier.

The piece, written by columnist Bedri Baykam for the March 19 edition of the Turkish daily Siyah-Beyaz (Black-White), denounced the book “Holocaust — The Jewish Invention” as “dirty propaganda.”

“I believe that this publication offends the Jewish citizens of Turkey as well as Jews all over the world,” Baykam, a well-known Turkish painter and writer, said in an interview.

“I am a Muslim citizen of this secular democratic republic, which should not make any discrimination of language, religion or race among its people,” Baykam said.

The book, which was written by Harun Yahya, a pen name of Nuri Ozbudak, has been praised in Turkish newspapers affiliated with the country’s Islamist Welfare Party, whose leader, Necmettin Erbakan, recently became prime minister.

Ozbudak claims in his book that there was elaborate cooperation between Adolf Hitler and the Jews, and that the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust actually fell victim to a massive typhus epidemic.

According to the book, the Nazis used the concentration camps to quarantine the affected population and stop the spread of the epidemic.

Ozbudak’s lawyer, Mehmet Sahim, said the book was based on extensive research of more than 100 documents in four different languages.

He also said Jewish propaganda has led people to believe that the Holocaust was a genocide against the Jewish people.

“You don’t need to be a Jew to give a strong reaction against an anti-Semitic campaign,” Baykam wrote in his March 19 column. He expressed concern that younger Turks, “when they read such stupidities, because they have not lived those days, or met anybody who told them the truth, can believe those stories.”

Sahim, saying that Baykam’s article brought both personal and commercial prejudice to his client, is seeking compensation for defamation of character.

At the first session of the trial held here, the judge said he could not make decisions about history. The trial is scheduled to resume Sept. 25.

Baykam said that after the trial ends, he planned to sue Ozbudak and demand that all issues of the book be banned.

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