Turkish jail time

A British artist is facing up to three years jail in Turkey for exhibiting a collage that depicts its Prime Minister as a dog being awarded a rosette by President Bush, according to The Times.

Police in Istanbul seized Michael Dickinson’s Best in Show, according to The Times, which he has superimposed the head of Recep Tayyip Erdogan on to a dog’s body.

turkish dog.jpg

I’m firmly in favour of Turkey entering the European Union (Israel as well), I know they’re not Europeans, but I don’t think that really has much to do with what the EU is about as a political and economic project.

But it’s moves like jailing an artist (on one level a laughable act, but on another an attack on freedom of expression/human rights and highlighting fundamentally different mindsets) that remind you just how difficult it’s going to be getting Turkey into the EU, but it is worth it.

Bringing a large Muslim nation into the heart of the EU will fundamentally change it for the better. It will strengthen the EU’s voice, by adding diversity to what is essentially one big Christian club with a bridge to the Muslim world, and hopefully via Turkey’s then anchorage to Europe stabilise the troubled spots of Central Asia and the Middle East.

Clearly, there’s a long way to go. Only this week Olli Rehn, the European enlargement commissioner, warned of a “train crash” unless Turkey opens up its ports (to Cyprus ) and speeds up reforms on human rights and free speech.

Dickinson has been told that he is likely to be charged with “insulting the dignity of the Prime Minister”. The show’s organiser faces the same charge.

As well as not knowing that you can’t go around banging up artists (political activists and other undesirables) no one has told the Turks that insulting your national leader is a European pastime.

Did no one round robin the Turks all those poodle and monkey pics?