Turkey destroys more than 300,000 books in wake of failed coup

Turkish authorities have destroyed more than 300,000 books with potential links to the failed coup of July 2016, according to the government. 

Turkey’s education minister Ziya Selçuk announced last week that 301,878 books had been removed from schools and libraries and destroyed as the government cracks down on anything linked to Fethullah Gülen, the U.S.-based cleric whom Turkey accuses of organising the coup attempt. Gülen has denied involvement.

News outlet Kronos27 published images of books being seized and burnt by Turkish police. 

Free speech organisations expressed alarm at Selçuk’s comments. “In just three years, the publishing landscape in Turkey has been all but decimated, with 29 publishing houses shut down by emergency decree for ‘spreading terrorist propaganda’,” PEN International and English PEN said in a joint statement.

A 2018 report from English PEN found that, following the state of emergency decreed after the attempted coup, 200 media outlets and publishing organisations had been shut down, 80 writers subjected to investigations and prosecutions and 5,822 academics dismissed from 118 public universities. 

In December 2016, Turkish newspaper BirGün reported that 1.8m textbooks had been destroyed and reprinted for containing the word Pennsylvania, which is where Gülen lives.