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Turkey probes atheist's 'God' book

  • Story Highlights
  • Turkish probe to look at whether "The God Delusion" is attack on religious values
  • Move could lead to the prosecution of the book's Turkish publisher
  • Turkey criticized for targeting writers and intellectuals for expressing opinions
  • The book has sold 6,000 copies in Turkey
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ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- A Turkish prosecutor has launched a probe into whether a book by best-selling atheist writer Richard Dawkins is an attack on religious values -- a move that could lead to the prosecution of the book's Turkish publisher.

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"The God Delusion" has sold some 6,000 copies in Turkey.

Publisher Erol Karaaslan said he would be questioned by an Istanbul prosecutor on Wednesday as part of the official investigation into Dawkins' book, "The God Delusion."

Karaaslan could face trial and up to one year in prison if the prosecutor concludes that the book "incites religious hatred" and insults religious values, Milliyet newspaper reported. Karaaslan is both the publisher and translator of the book.

The investigation of the British scientist's book comes at a time when Turkey has been criticized for targeting writers and intellectuals for expressing opinions. The European Union, which Turkey hopes to join, is pressing Ankara to change laws that curb free expression, calling them inconsistent with the bloc's free speech standards.

Turkey said this month it would soften a much-criticized law that makes denigrating Turkish identity, or insulting the country's institutions, a crime.

The Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk was among the highest profile Turks snared by the law, when he commented on the mass killings of Armenians by Turks in the early 20th century.

Historians estimate up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by genocide scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey, however, denies the deaths constituted genocide, saying that the toll has been inflated and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.

A probe was launched into "The God Delusion" after one reader complained that passages in the book were an assault on "sacred values," Karaaslan said.

No one was available for comment at the prosecutor's office.

The book has sold about 6,000 copies in Turkey since it was published by Karaaslan's Kuzey publishing house in June. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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