VS Naipaul withdraws from Turkish event after row over Islam comments

From The Guardian:

VS-Naipaul-001 The Nobel laureate VS Naipaul has pulled out of a literary event opening in Istanbul tomorrow, after Turkish writers threatened a boycott because of deeply critical comments he has made on Islam. The row erupted after Naipaul was invited to give the opening speech at the European Writers' Parliament (EWP), the brainchild of novelists Orhan Pamuk and José Saramago, which aims to bring together authors from across Europe to debate key issues of the contemporary literary scene and opens today. But several Turkish writers expressed outrage at the invitation, citing hostile comments Naipaul made about Islam nearly a decade ago. Naipaul, who was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 2001, caused controversy that same year by his remarks about Islam at a London reading from his book, Half a Life. The writer compared the religion to colonialism, saying Islam “has had a calamitous effect on converted peoples. To be converted you have to destroy your past, destroy your history. You have to stamp on it, you have to say 'my ancestral culture does not exist, it doesn't matter'.”

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