The literary world in Turkey shaken by a #MeToo movement

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Ankara | The literary world in Turkey is shaken by allegations of assault and sexual harassment, targeting well-known writers, exposed by their alleged victims in favor of a rare wave of #Metoo, in a country where the patriarchal mentality remains tenacious.

The campaign has taken a dramatic turn and received increasing media attention since the Dec. 10 suicide of a writer after he disclosed obscene messages he allegedly sent to younger women.

Launched by anonymous messages on social networks, the movement quickly gained momentum, rallying well-known personalities and emboldening women to break the silence to denounce writers believing themselves protected by their celebrity.

It all started on December 7 with a tweet.

A surfer using the pseudonym “Leyla Salinger” then shared a video of novelist Hasan Ali Toptas, nicknamed “the Turkish Kafka” in literary circles, along with the comment “how many of us are waiting for this man to be denounced?”

In the aftermath of this message, around 20 women accused Toptas of harassment, prompting a wave of testimony targeting other writers.

One of the perpetrators, Ibrahim Colak, committed suicide in Ankara at the age of 51 after posting a text on Twitter in which he expressed his regret and asked his family for forgiveness.

According to local media, he sent obscene messages to Leyla, the internet user who started the movement.

“I hadn’t prepared for such an end. I wanted to be a good man, but I failed, ”wrote Colak, adding that he could no longer“ look his wife, children and friends in the eye ”.

Leyla’s Twitter account has since disappeared.

“A terrible memory”

Writer Pelin Buzluk told her own story of harassment by Mr. Toptas to the Turkish newspaper “Hürriyet”.

“I have a terrible memory about her,” she said, recalling how she must have locked herself in the bathroom of Mr. Toptas’ apartment when he tried to assault her. sexually in 2011.

“Why did you wear that dress, then?” Mr Toptas reportedly asked her when she pushed back his advances, insinuating that she deserved what was happening to her, Ms Buzluk said.

Instead of shutting down the debate, Mr. Toptas made his case worse with a statement in which he apologized to anyone he allegedly offended with “his unconscious behavior,” which he blamed on a “patriarchal mentality. », Refusing to take responsibility for it.

“These are not excuses from someone who regrets their actions,” commented Ms. Buzluk.

Mr. Toptas later denied Ms. Buzluk’s version. “Nothing like that happened,” he told the daily “Milliyet”.

“That you lose sleep”

But the newspaper published the same day the testimonies of five other women accusing him of sexual harassment.

Faced with these allegations, the Everest publishing house announced that it had ended its collaboration with Mr. Toptas and many institutions withdrew the prizes they had awarded him.

The hashtag #Tacizesusma (“Don’t stay silent in the face of harassment”) was among the most popular in Turkey at the height of the campaign.

Another writer, Asli Tohumcu, claiming to “take heart from Pelin Buzluk”, publicly accused a man of letters, Bora Abdo, of harassing her.

Following the accusation, the Iletisim publishing house severed its ties with Mr. Abdo, who denies the allegations.

In this context, an email account,, which translates to “let you lose sleep”, was created at the initiative of activists to encourage women victims of harassment to share their stories.

Similar denunciations had targeted the Turkish literary world in the recent past but had gone unnoticed at the time.

Thus, an article devoted to this subject by the writer Nazli Karabiyikoglu, published in 2018 without causing a wave, has been widely shared in recent weeks on social networks. Because in the meantime, the Turkish #Metoo has been there.

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