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Turkish man arrested after group disrupts book reading, May 2, 2007

A Turkish native was arrested after he and others disrupted a book reading about the Armenian genocide at a Barnes & Noble store on the Upper East Side last night, the police said.

Among those attending the reading by Margaret Ajemian Ahnert, whose Armenian parents immigrated to the United States, were Robert M. Morgenthau, the Manhattan district attorney, and Hugh L. Carey, a former governor of New York. Ms. Ahnert had begun reading from her book, The Knock at the Door, when a group of four or five men in the audience stood and started passing out literature denying that Turks committed the mass destruction of Armenians in and around 1915, according to Ms. Ahnert and her publisher, David Nelson. The men were asked to sit, but refused, Mr. Nelson said.

The police said that they received a call around 7:30 p.m. and that officers attempted to escort the men out of the bookstore, on East 86th Street.

One man, Erdem Sahin, 41, refused to leave and was arrested, the police said. Mr. Sahin, who was born in Turkey, was charged with resisting arrest, inciting a riot, unlawful assembly, and disorderly conduct for disturbing a lawful assembly, according to the police. The reading was suspended for about 20 minutes while the disturbance was sorted out.

It was the first time I had that ugliness, Ms. Ahnert said. It's not pleasant, but this is America. Everyone has free speech.

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