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Turkey probes The God Delusion for 'insulting religion'

God-botherer-botherer targeted for legal retribution

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A prosecutor in Turkey has launched an investigation into Richard Dawkins' bestselling polemic The God Delusion on suspicion that it incites religious hatred and insults religous values.

Publisher Erol Karaaslan said today he will be quizzed by authorities in Istanbul on Thursday. A successful prosecution could land him a year in prison, Turkish newspaper Milliyet is reporting.

The God Delusion, Dawkins' most outspoken and controversial attack on religion yet, has sold about 6,000 copies in Turkey since going on sale in June. The investigation was reportedly launched after one reader complained it insults "sacred values".

The probe comes as Turkey's ongoing attempts to join the EU bring close scrutiny over its poor record on human rights. Brussels is pressuring the country to repeal laws that curb free speech and criticism.

A law known as Article 301, introduced in 2005, states: "A person who, being a Turk, explicitly insults the Republic or Turkish Grand National Assembly, shall be punishable by imprisonment of between six months to three years."

YouTube has twice been banned in Turkey for hosting videos that badmouth politicians.

Nobel Prizewinning Turkish author Orhan Pamuk was arrested and put on trial in for comments he made about the massacre of Armenians by Turkey during the First World War. The charges were eventually dropped early in 2006 after an international outcry.

Earlier this month, Turkey said it plans to relax Article 301. ®

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