Turkish court begins trial of novelist Elif Shafak for "insulting Turkishness"

A Turkish court on Thursday opened the trial of Elif Shafak, one of Turkey's leading authors, on a charge of "insulting Turkishness" in a novel, as the European Union warned Turkey putting writers and journalists on trial under repressive laws could hamper its efforts to join the bloc.

Turkish authorities have put a string of Turkish writers and journalists on trial for expressing opinions, despite calls from the EU to scrap the law that penalizes insulting the Turkish Republic, its officials, or "Turkishness.

Shafak, a University of Arizona assistant professor, gave birth on Saturday to a girl, Sehrazat Zelda, and was still at the hospital and not expected to attend her trial in Istanbul.

"It is a shame not just for her but for Turkey. The whole process is absurd. I am not worried about the verdict, I am ashamed at the whole process," Shafak's husband, Eyup Can, said.

The court was expected to adjourn the trial to hear from Shafak later, reports AP.

Police took strong security measures outside the courthouse, setting up barricades and deploying dozens of riot police officers against possible protests by nationalists. Some European Union officials were expected to attend the trial to pressure Turkey to drop charges against Shafak.

Some 25 nationalist protesters were holding an EU-flag adorned with a Nazi swastika in the middle and a slogan that read: "EU fascism." The protesters were also holding several Turkish flags.