Turkish pianist handed jail term in blasphemy retrial

Say was originally sentenced on April 15.

Afp September 20, 2013
Say was originally sentenced on April 15. PHOTO: AFP

ISTANBUL: An Istanbul court on Friday again handed a 10-month suspended jail term to world-renowned Turkish pianist Fazil Say during a retrial over social media posts deemed religiously offensive, his lawyer said.

Say, who was not present at Friday's hearing, was also placed on a two-year probation, his lawyer Meltem Akyol told AFP, adding that he planned to appeal the verdict.

Say was originally sentenced on April 15 for allegedly inciting religious hatred and insulating Islamic values in a series of tweets he posted last year.

A higher Istanbul court then overturned the conviction on "procedural flaws" and a retrial was ordered.

On Friday, the 43-year-old virtuoso, who has played with the philharmonic orchestras of Berlin, New York, Tokyo and Israel, shrugged off his sentence.

"Tomorrow, I will continue to live and to produce," he wrote in a tweet. "By continuing to live, by continuing to think as a free man, I will produce even better work."

Say was prosecuted for a series of tweets criticising Muslims.

Another tweet which prosecutors say explicitly insulted religious values, questions why a call to prayer was so short.

The high-profile case has irked secular Turks, who are worried about what they see a creeping conservatism in the predominantly Muslim country.

Say has accused the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of being behind the case against him.

The case has also stoked fears of growing restrictions on freedom of expression in a country which has long sought to join the European Union.

Dozens of journalists are in detention in Turkey, as well as lawyers, politicians and lawmakers -- most of them accused of plotting against the government or having links with the outlawed Kurdish rebel movement the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).


Daniel De Mol | 9 years ago | Reply

@Babashakkari: Insult laws are frequently used to suppress valid, rational critique, and threats of legal sentence, owing to their harassing nature, most certainly are a punishment of sorts designed to silence alternative opinions.

I personally feel that even hate speech should be permitted, although I believe that the just should speak up to debunk hate speech and condemn it, albeit not by bringing legal or other forms of harassment to act as a form of compulsion in religion.

Daniel De Mol | 9 years ago | Reply

Thank goodness the Baha’i teachings which are for this age abolish blasphemy laws;

“Should any stab you to the heart, be ye a healing salve unto his sores; should any taunt and mock at you, meet him with love.” ~Abdul-Baha

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