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Turkish-Armenian Writer Reports Death Threats

Sevan Nisanyan
Sevan Nisanyan
Turkish-Armenian newspaper columnist Sevan Nisanyan says he has received hundreds of deaths threats after altering a famous quote from the founder of modern Turkey to make a case for reforms in the country, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Nisanyan took a quote from a 1923 speech by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey's founding father, in which he urged Turkish youth to fight hard for their homeland.

"Your first duty is to preserve and to defend Turkish independence and the Turkish Republic forever," declared Ataturk.

Nisanyan -- an Istanbul-based, ethnic Armenian intellectual -- wrote in an October 29 article published by the "Taraf" daily that, "Your first duty is to be a human being. This is the very foundation of your existence and your future. This foundation is your most precious treasure."

Nisanyan told RFE/RL that his appeal infuriated nationalist Turks and he has since received about 800 e-mails and letters containing verbal abuse and threats to kill him.

He said "people have gone mad" and added that he believes "the military is behind this uproar."

Nisanyan add that he has appealed to Turkish police for protection.

He said police have been "the more liberal party in [Turkey in] recent years" and "have been friendly and helped me a lot."