The third hearing of the trial related to the 2010 "İllallah" ("I've had enough") agenda of Metis was heard before the Istanbul 16th High Criminal Court on 30 November. The case was opened on 26 November 2010 on charges of "denigrating religious values" according to Article 216/3 of the Turkish Criminal Law (TCK). The defendants of the trial are publishing director Semih Sökmen, copyediting editors Müge Sökmen, Özge Çelik, Tuncay Birkan and Özde Duygu Gürkan, graphic designer Emine Bora and proofreader Eylem Can.
The agenda was published by Metis Publishing and printed in 2009. When it was introduced to the market, it touched upon the subject of protection of the right to believe from organized religions, state budgets and police or military force. In its introduction it read, "We, as the ones who prepared this agenda, respect the right to believe. Yet we have to mention that we have a slightly deeper respect for the right not to believe".
The respect to the right not to believe as underscored in the İllallah agenda came up when Ali Emre Bukağılı filed a complaint about the Metis calendar.
The Beyoğlu (Istanbul) Public Prosecution initially decided for a lack of grounds for legal action. Bukağılı appealed and the Bakırköy 1st High Criminal Court overruled the decision of the prosecutor's office. Subsequently, the trial against Semih Sökmen and the copyediting staff started.
Eco, Dostoevsky and Einstein part of the trial
The İllallah agenda includes quotations of world-famous writers, philosophers and scientists like George Bernard Shaw, Umberto Eco, Fyodor Mikkaylovich Dostoevsky, James Joyce, Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell and Galileo Galilei.
At the 30 November hearing, Sökmen emphasized that he had the responsibility for the agenda and that it did not include any sentences of his own. Instead, quotations were chosen from leading figures in world literature and philosophy. Sökmen indicated that for this reason the trial should not have been opened. The sentences included in the agenda were critical in terms of religion and religious ideology but did not mean to denigrate religious values, Sökmen stated.
According to Sökmen, the quotations did not contain any insult. He continued, "Morally and in a humanitarian sense, I categorically disapprove of insults or disdain imposed on people who believe regardless of what they believe in. But criticism and opinions are one thing and insult and denigration are a different issue. Criticism within the framework of historic, philosophic, sociological and anthropological disciplines, related discussions, talks and announcements of ideas and opinions cannot be evaluated as insult or denigration of religion, religious ideology or any belief in God", Sökmen said to his defence. (EG/HK/VK)
Who is Ali Emre Bukağılı?
Ali Emre Bukağılı is known for his trials opened on the grounds of the book "The God Delusion" by British biologist Richard Dawkins; "The daughters of God" by Nedim Güzel and cases filed against various social networking sites. In an interview published in the Akit newspaper he was quoted as saying "Enemies of Islam are not let to breathe comfortably".