Turkish govt supporting business buys bookshops, takes critical books off shelves

A business group that supports Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has bought one of the largest chains of bookshops in the country, left-wing news site Gazete Yolculuk said.

It said Turkuvaz Grup, which also owns Sabah newspaper and television news channel A Haber, bought the D&R bookshop chain in April. The 142 branches of the bookshop across Turkey have now begun taking off the shelves books by atheist writer Turan Dursun, human rights and constitutional scholar İbrahim Kaboğlu, left-wing writer Orhan Gökdemir and opposition Republican People’s Party deputy Zeynep Altıok.

“My book explaining censorship and repression of the arts, culture and writers has itself been censored!” Altıok said in a statement.

“The politically and ideologically washed-up Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and its partisan capital are solely trying to eke out its lifespan a little longer. But whatever happens, this situation will end on June 25,” she said, in reference to presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24.

Dursun, an imam-turned-atheist, was killed in 1990 by an Islamic group for his critiques of the Quran. It is likely that the bookshop was reacting to being made fun of on social media for his work accidentally being included in a display of religious literature for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.