October 31, 2006
An Appeal for Dismissal of Charges Against Muazzez Ilmiye Cig
We, the undersigned members of the International Association for Assyriology and other colleagues with interest in the Ancient Near East are deeply alarmed by news reports that Muazzez Ilmiye Cig is to defend herself in court against charges of inciting religious hatred. She is accused of belittling Muslim practices when she disclosed information on the use of headdresses and scarves by Sumerian women millennia ago.
A veteran researcher who, throughout a long career, has contributed to the recovery of the ancient past, Dr. Cig is a model representative of Turkish contribution to scholarship. She has been tireless in propagating the knowledge acquired from ancient documents. The specific issue she raises about the significance of the use of scarves in antiquity cannot have reference to religiously sanctioned practices in our own days. It should be a subject for discussion among historians of past cultures rather than of clerics, lawyers, and judges.
We appeal to Turkish officials with influence on this matter to work for dismissal of all charges against Professor Muazzez Ilmiye Cig.
Jack M. Sasson, President
Wilfred H. van Soldt, Secretary
The International Association for Assyriology (IAA)
AN APPEAL FOR DISMISSAL OF CHARGES AGAINST MUAZZEZ ILMIYE CIG
From the BBC came this encouraging message:
"A court in the Turkish city of Istanbul has acquitted a 92-year-old academic of charges of insulting Muslim women and inciting religious hatred.
Archaeologist Muazzez Ilmiye Cig was prosecuted over a book in which she linked the wearing of headscarves with ancient Sumerian sexual rites. The judge ruled at the first hearing of her trial that her actions did not constitute a crime. Dr Cig's publisher was also cleared in a trial lasting less than half an hour. The archaeologist was applauded by supporters as she left the courtroom"
The acquittal of all charges against Muazzez Ilmiye Çig and Ismet Ogutucu, her publisher, is very gratifying.
The International Association for Assyriology has received almost 150 responses to its appeal and we are heartened by it. The appeal is now suspended and we hope that there will be no future need for any similar call on behalf of intellectual rights and plea for legal prudence.
Jack M. Sasson, Vanderbilt University, President
Wilfred H. van Soldt, Leiden University, Secretary
Jeanette C. Fincke, Leiden University, Treasurer