Intellectuals back famous Azerbaijani writer in attack

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 Turkish and Armenian intellectuals have recently issued support messages for renowned Azerbaijani novelist Akram Aylisli, who became the target of attacks for his latest novel.

“When true intellectuals and true writers defend truths, it does not mean that they don’t love their country. [Aylisli’s] statements clearly show that a patriot cannot remain silent in the face of the truth,” Writers’ Union of Armenia President Levon Ananyan told Radio Liberti.

Prominent publisher, author and human rights activist Ragıp Zarakolu released an announcement titled “Azeri Vicdanlılara Sahip Çıkalım” (Defend Azerbaijani Conscience). “No matter what you call honest people with conscience, they are the real pride of a country. Currently, the life of Azerbaijan’s pride, Aylisli, is under a severe threat. Even though some Western countries and Russia invited him, Aylisli displayed an honorable posture and rejected leaving his homeland. In order to prevent another murder resembling the assassination of Hrant Dink, I call the international public and the democrats of Turkey and Azerbaijan to active solidarity with Aylisli,” the announcement read.

Aylisli became the target of attacks both from the state and the public after the release of his latest novel, “Stone Dreams,” which depicts Azerbaijani-Armenian friendship through its protagonists. A symbolic DNA test was done last week in Baku to prove whether Aylisli was Armenian. A group of angry people gathered in front of Aylisli’s house, painted crosses on his photos and burned them, shouting slogans such as, “Traitor, shame on you!

Aylisli had been the recipient of many national and international awards, and was also declared “Azerbaijani National Writer” in 1987, but President İlham Aliyev stripped him of all his national honors on Feb. 7.

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