Turkish Pianist on Trial for Tweet (Updated 4/16/13)
On Monday, April 15, Turkish courts sentenced Fazil Say to a 10-month jail term for "offending Islam" and suspended it to five years-- essentially this means that Say won't be sent to jail unless he commits another crime within the next five years (inluding once again offending Islam). Reportedly, Turkish Minister of Culture Omer Celik spoke out against the judgement, stating: "I do not want anybody to face the judiciary because of something he has said."
Fazil Say an internationally acclaimed Turkish classical pianist and composer is set to stand trial on Friday, July 1st, 2012 after a court ruling in Istanbul for insulting Islamic religious values in comments posted on Twitter.
“The trial will open on Oct. 17, 2012 in an Istanbul court,” his lawyer, Meltem Akyol, told AFP, adding that Say would attend the hearing.
42-year-old Say was indicted for writing anti-religious tweets, most of which were quoted from a well-known poem by the 11th Century Persian poet, Omar Khayyam, that ridiculed the hypocrisy of people who pretend to be pious.
The news circulated around Twitter; many focusing on the fact that Say’s tweet was quoted.
“The news that we have heard for many years from Iran and Saudi Arabia, now comes out of Turkey. Is this a development?” ridiculed Levent Kazak on Twitter.
In addition, Turkish Internet users started an online petition to express their disgust for this decision, saying, “Fazil Say has done a lot to make Turkey proud and a one and a half year prison sentence is not what he deserves.” To join to this petition, click HERE.
Fazil Say wrote on his Facebook page, “These reactions have made me skeptical about my love for my country. I can’t even imagine insulting someone and I never approach an artist’s sensitivity. I’ve heard a lot about respect for freedom of thought and expression.”
Khayyam’s poem questions religious believers, “You say rivers of wine flow in heaven, is heaven a tavern to you? You say two hours await each believer there, is heaven a brothel to you?”