Zadie Smith, Salman Rushdie & Others Implore Turkey To Allow 'Freedom Of Words'

This week, Turkey banned YouTube after an apparent intelligence leak days before the country's March 30 elections. Turkey also banned Twitter earlier this month, although Turkish Twitter users easily got around that and a Turkish court overturned the ban, Now, popular authors are speaking out against these social-media bans and signing a letter by PEN International and English PEN, imploring Turkey to retract the bans in the name of free speech.

PEN International and English PEN are both highly renowned organizations that promote the protection of freedom of speech and free expression for writers around the world. The list of authors who have signed the letter by the two organization includes Zadie Smith, Salman Rushdie, Orhan Pamuk, and Margaret Atwood.

An excerpt of the letter:

We, the signatories named below, are writers from around the world who love, live and breathe words. We are united in our belief that freedom of expression is a universal and fundamental human right. We hereby express our grave concern with regard to 'the freedom of words' in Turkey today.

The letter goes on to discuss how Turkey ranks 154th out of the world's 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index, and points to the specific laws in Turkey that serve to squash journalists and writers, before moving on to condemn the social media ban.

At the end, the letter demands that Turkey "recognize their obligations under international treaties and to lift the block on Twitter and YouTube with immediate effect."

And then this tremendous closing line:

We urge them to remember that this beautiful country will be stronger and happier when, and if, it appreciates pluralism, diversity and the freedom of speech.

You can read the letter here on the website.

Orhan Pamuk, a Nobel Prize laureate from Turkey who has been persecuted in the country for controversial statements about the Armenian genocide, has also spoken out, telling The Guardian that the situation "is going from bad to worse and even towards terrible."