by Charlie Crooijmans
This morning the Turkish pianist, composer and writer, Fazil Say, got sentenced by a Turkish court to imprisonment of ten months suspended for insulting the Islam in a tweet.
The tweet has been sent April last year with a verse from the Persian poet Omar Khayyam from the eleventh century, that questioned whether heaven was a tavern or a brothel, because of the promises that wine will flow and each believer will be greeted by virgins.
“I just thought it was a funny allegory and retweeted the message. It is unbelievable that it was made into a court case. This case, which goes against universal human rights and laws, is saddening not only when judged on its own merit but also for Turkey’s image”, Say said. (Freemuse)
There is a special page – Global Support Campaign for Fazil Say – to draw attention to this inconvenient situation, and to freedom of speech. Say, who has played piano with the New York Philharmonic, Berlin Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, National Orchestra of France, and Tokyo Symphony, is known as a strong critic of the Islamic-rooted government of Prime Minister Erdogan. According to Say, the charges, which he denies, are political motivated.
Constanze Letsch of the Guardian emphasizes this, “Artists and intellectuals have repeatedly been targeted in Turkey for voicing their opinions, and Say’s case has renewed concerns about the Turkish government’s stance towards freedom of expression.” (Guardian).
updated 16 April 2013