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Handke takes Nobel Literature Prize amid protest

Author Peter Handke received his Nobel Literature Prize on Tuesday amid criticism of him in Sweden and abroad as an apologist for Serb war crimes in the 1990s.

Handke accepted the 9-million-kronor ($948,000) award from King Carl XVI Gustaf at a ceremony in Stockholm with the winners of other Nobels except for the peace prize, which was presented in Oslo.

Handke has been a staunch supporter of the Serbs and has denied that the massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in the town of Srebrenica was genocide.

Chemistry laureate Akira Yoshino and his wife Kumiko pose with his Nobel medal and diploma during the Nobel Prize award ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall, in Stockholm, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (Jonas EkstromerTT News Agency via AP)

Representatives of seven countries boycotted the awards ceremony in protest, as did a member of the Swedish Academy that chooses the literature prize winner. A member of the committee that nominates candidates for the prize resigned his post.

Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Croatia, North Macedonia, Turkey and Afghanistan boycotted the awards ceremony and some of those country’s leaders denounced the prize.

“To give the Nobel Literature Prize to a racist personality can have no other meaning than to reward human rights violations,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter. Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said that "justice will prevail, not lies, denial and fake Nobel prizes.”

Esther Duflo of France, left, receives the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel from King Carl Gustaf of Sweden, during the Nobel Prize award ceremony, at the Stockholm Concert Hall, in Stockholm, Monday, Dec. 10, 2019. (Henrik Montgomery TT News Agency, Pool via AP)

In the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, war victims’ association erected a large electronic display portraying Handke as a villain standing next to skulls.

"As a citizen of Sarajevo I am horrified with this. He is genocide denier. He claims genocide did not happen in Bosnia. We will never forget this," said Sarajevo resident Senka Tinjak.

Protesters planned to demonstrate later in the day in a Stockholm square.

Esther Duflo of France is applauded after receiving the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel during the Nobel Prize award ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall, in Stockholm, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (Henrik MontgomeryTT News Agency via AP)

Many journalists who covered the Bosnian war took to Twitter to denounce Handke receiving the award.

One of them, Peter Maas, told The Associated Press in Stockholm “the ideas that Peter Handke has are extremist ideas, they are held by a discarded minority of people ... The Swedish Academy, the Nobel Prize Foundation, and today the royal family of Sweden. they are the ones now throwing their weight behind these extremist ideas.”

Polish author Olga Tokarczuk, left, and Austrian author Peter Handke, 2018 and 2019 literature laureates respectively, during the Nobel Prize award ceremony, at the Stockholm Concert Hall, in Stockholm, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (Jonas EkstromerTT News Agency via AP)

Polish author Olga Tokarczuk, left, receives the Nobel prize from King Carl Gustaf of Sweden, during the Nobel Prize award ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall, in Stockholm, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (Jonas EkstromerTT News Agency via AP)

Physiology or Medicine laureate William G. Kaelin Jr, left, receives the prize from King Carl Gustaf of Sweden, during the Nobel Prize award ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall, in Stockholm, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (Henrik MontgomeryTT News Agency via AP)

Physiology or Medicine laureate Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe, left, receives the prize from King Carl Gustaf of Sweden, during the Nobel Prize award ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall, in Stockholm, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (Jonas EkstromerTT News Agency via AP)

Physiology or Medicine laureate Gregg L. Semenza, left, receives the prize from King Carl Gustaf of Sweden, during the Nobel Prize award ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall, in Stockholm, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. (Jonas EkstromerTT News Agency via AP)