Murat Belge

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Murat Belge
Born (1943-03-16) March 16, 1943 (age 75)
Ankara, Turkey
Nationality Turkish
Ethnicity Turkish

Murat Belge (born March 16, 1943) is an outspoken Leftist Turkish intellectual, academic, translator, literary critic, columnist, civil rights activist, and occasional tour guide.


Belge was a member of the organizing committee for a two-day academic conference that started on September 24, 2005, held at Bilgi University in Istanbul, titled "Ottoman Armenians During the Decline of the Empire: Issues of Scientific Responsibility and Democracy".[1] The conference offered an open dispute of the official Turkish account of the Armenian Genocide, and was denounced by nationalists as treacherous.[1][2]

This is a fight of 'can we discuss this thing, or can we not discuss this thing?'…This is something that's directly related to the question of what kind of country Turkey is going to be.

— Belge, during the conference opening.[1]

Belge's remarks led to his facing a ten-year jail sentence for criticizing the judicial ban; he was acquitted.[3]

A leaked Turkish military memo, dated November 2006 (reported by Nokta in March 2007, prior to being shut down[4]), lists journalist deemed "trustworthy" and "untrustworthy" by the Turkish Armed Forces.[5] Murat Belge was listed as "untrustworthy."[6]

Since 1996 he has been a professor of comparative literature at Istanbul Bilgi University.

Personal life and education

He is the son of political journalist Burhan Asaf Belge (who was once married to Hungarian-American socialite Zsa Zsa Gabor from 1937 to 1941), nephew of Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoğlu, and the grandson of a former governor of Bursa. He received his Ph.D. from Istanbul University in 1969 on leftist criticism in English literature.[7] From his student years in the 1960s, until the early 1980s, he had been an active participant of a close-knit left-wing group of scholars at Istanbul University's Department of English Language and Literature; he used to be a Marxist himself.[8] His fellow scholars of those years included Berna Moran, Mina Urgan, Cevat Capan, Aksit Gokturk and Vahit Turhan. After the military coups of 1971 and 1980, he was compelled to leave academic life and began publishing left-wing classics with Iletisim Press in Istanbul.

Since the early 1980s, he has been guiding tours of Istanbul's yalıs (waterfront mansions).[9][10]

He is married to actress Hale Soygazi.


For several years he wrote columns for the daily Radikal, before shifting to Taraf in June 2008. On December 14, 2012, Belge stepped down from his post at Taraf together with editor-in-chief Ahmet Altan, assistant editor Yasemin Çongar and columnist Neşe Tüzel,[11] and he has written occasionally for openDemocracy since 2001.

Belge has translated works of James Joyce, Charles Dickens, D. H. Lawrence, William Faulkner and John Berger into Turkish. He is an active member of the Helsinki Citizens Assembly.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Harvey, Benjamin (2005-09-24). "Turks debate painful past, permitting discussion over whether ancestors committed genocide". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2008-07-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Mahoney, Robert (2006-03-16). "Turkey: Nationalism and the Press". Committee to Protect Journalists.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Court acquits fifth journalist who criticised conference ban, IFEX. 9 July 2006.
  4. Belli, Onur Burçak (2007-04-21). "Nokta Weekly to be shut down". Turkish Daily News. Retrieved 2008-02-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Şık, Ahmet (2007-03-08). "İki Tür Gazeteci Vardır: TSK Karşıtları, TSK Yandaşları". Nokta (in Türkçe).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. E. Baris Altintas, Ercan Yavuz (2007-03-09). "New military media scandal exposed". Zaman. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2008-02-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Academic profile, Istanbul Bilgi University
  8. Alçı, Nagehan (2007-09-03). "İkinci Cumhuriyet için sol şart". Akşam. Retrieved 16 August 2008. Eski Marksistler olarak AKP’ye daha yakınız.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  9. Tavernise, Sabrina (2008-10-25). "On the Bosporus, a Scholar Tells of Sultans, Washerwomen and Snakes". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-25. |section= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Altfuldisch, Christian (October 2008). "Murat Belge". Return to Europe. European Stability Initiative. Retrieved 2008-10-30.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Taraf'ta istifa depremi". Hürriyet Gündem (in Turkish). 2012-12-15. Retrieved 2012-12-15. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links