EIBF 'strongly condemns' attack on Turkish bookshop

EIBF 'strongly condemns' attack on Turkish bookshop

The European and International Booksellers Federation (EIBF) has “strongly condemned” the destruction of the Gulen Bookshop in Turkey.

Video footage has surfaced showing alleged Turkish pro-government supporters ransacking a Gulenist bookshop in Ankara following the failed coup last month. Gulenists are supporters of Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen who has lived in self-imposed exile in the US since 1999. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish government believe that Gulen and his supporters were behind the failed coup on 15th July that claimed the lives of at least 250 people. The footage shows people ransacking the shop and pulling down bookshelves.

Director Fran Dubruille told The Bookseller the organisation intends to start a campaign to support people in Turkey who share the values of freedom of expression following the attack.

“The EIBF strongly condemns the attack on the Gulen bookshop in Ankara," she said. "Freedom of expression entails freedom of publishing and bookselling and EIBF has always been supporting these principles with the utmost vigour.

“EIBF will see how to work with colleagues in the book chain to start a campaign supporting those in Turkey who share the same values and need our help. These are very trouble times, with bad news coming from Turkey and Hong Kong in the book sector. We must stand up for our values and we are determined to fight for them.”

Earlier this month, the Turkish government closed 29 publishing houses in the country under the “decree on necessary measures under the state of emergency and regulations regarding some institutions,” which has been called "an assault on parliamentary democracy" by the Turkish Publishers Association.

The Association of German Publishers and Booksellers (AGPB) has also "strongly condemned" the move and called on the European Commission to show a "clear stance" and defend freedom of speech.

Alexander Skipis, chief executive of the AGPB, said: "We strongly condemn the arrests of writers and journalists and the closure of publishers and other media companies. The Turkish government is massively impinging on the rights and freedoms of its citizens. Authors, publishers and journalists are being treated like criminals; this is intolerable. Freedom of speech is a basic human right that must be protected under all circumstances. As an industry, we remain firmly committed to freedom of speech. We ask the government and the EU Commission to show a clear stance on the situation in Turkey and to defend freedom of speech."

The criticisms follow attacks on newspaper offices and a bookshop in Turkey last year, when the IPA called on the Turkish government to do more to take action to "stem the tide of assaults".