Inside the Middle East
June 3, 2012
Posted: 1519 GMT

A Turkish court charged an award-winning pianist on Friday with insulting Islam on Twitter, according to the Associated Press.  

Fazil Say, a 42-year-old Turkish pianist, reportedly posted several tweets to his Twitter account which were perceived as supporting atheism and insulting of Turkey's “religious values”. 

Say faces up to 18 months in prison if convicted in an October trial, according to his lawyer's comments in this article from Agence-France Presse.

"It's unbelievable that it was made into a court case." Mr. Say told the New York Times. "The case, which is inconsistent with human rights and universal laws, is bad for Turkey's image," he said to Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper.

Here's the NYT on Say's controversial tweets:

Another Twitter post, this one written by Mr. Say, joked about a muezzin’s rapid delivery of the call to prayer, asking if he wanted to get away quickly for a drink. The messages are no longer available online. The pianist, who has frequently criticized the pro-Islamic Justice and Development Party government over its cultural and social policies, publicly defines himself as an atheist— a controversial admission in Turkey, which is overwhelmingly Muslim.

Read more on Say on his website and Facebook account.

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Filed under: Culture •Turkey

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whocares?   June 5th, 2012 5:15 am ET

Galileo said the same thing about the church, and he was charged too. and people say Islam has no similarity with Christianity....

But let's be serious, I thought Turkey was secular; this is just stupid

Deniz Memisoglu   June 6th, 2012 12:12 pm ET

There are values of the societies that should be considered seriously. Thus, whilst speaking of values and traditions, people should be highly aware of each of the sentences or the words spoken. Say has been recognized globally as an artist. We all appreciate him. On the other hand he is a role model as well.
There has been radical changes in the political and economical structure of Turkey. Those changes influence the social structure of the country as well. Becoming strongly against to the existing structure rises the oppositions. Say has to be more accurate about conveying his thoughts to the nation and world.

Tafnir   June 6th, 2012 1:33 pm ET

Turkey should definitively be refused admission in European Union !

muhanad   June 7th, 2012 7:11 am ET

This Issue goes beyond the subject of human rights and individuals freedom for being a case of insulting those who think and belive in this religion, Muslims in Turkey are keen to ensure social freedom, but on condition that there be no abuse of any component of the community because it will be concedered as a violation to the respect for religions.

grace   June 9th, 2012 7:38 am ET

Muslims say Islam is a religion of Peace and the rest of the world do not understand the true form of Islam.If a man Turkey (the land of Khalifs) is not able to express his views or if girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan (States supposed to practice the purest form of Islam) are denied the right to education what kind of Peace are we taking about.

Edward   June 9th, 2012 4:18 pm ET

Holy smokes! This guy is a wonderful artist. He is practically dancing with the piano as he plays. The sound is gorgous.

Jerry   June 11th, 2012 10:05 am ET

Muslims say Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance and we will kill anyone who dares to contradict us on this point.

baris   June 11th, 2012 6:10 pm ET

the right of free expression doesnt give u right to insult others.dont mistake freedom and insult.anybody can be muslim, christian,or atheist, can share his ideas with others. but it doesnt mean he can insult others.

he s just a 3th class piano player, who doesnt have any popularity in Turkey, and trying to make popularity in secular society, being their fake hero.

NoName   June 13th, 2012 11:51 pm ET


Turkey is better off not tying itself to a sinking ship

chrisokosun   June 17th, 2012 1:32 am ET

Being a star or a pianist is not a yardstick to get involved in religion matter in an environment like his.

Baris-manco   June 17th, 2012 4:56 am ET

Yes, since we have AKP lead by the PM-RTE, Turkey's secular values are surely going down the drain.Until one day woke -up and realize we need a Spring too. Just for the record, the AKP party passed a Law, making it illigal a tape recordings by journalists.

ibra   June 24th, 2012 3:38 pm ET

hypocrites were there during the time of our HOLY PROPHET(S.A.W) it is not a wonder to see such a pianist which may be is a non-Muslim living in a Muslim country or may be he got lost into money world by trying to get fame so that exaggerationist media come to him.

chrisfox   July 8th, 2012 4:41 pm ET

things got on common here in middle east..

andreas tufekcioglu   October 19th, 2012 3:11 pm ET

Fazil Say was referring to a poem of famous Persian poet of the 11th century, Omar Khayyam. Omar Khayyam was in turn was referring to the promises made to the pious Muslims in Quran. Khayyam was never prosecuted and yet in a democratic(!) country, 11th century poems are faced with prosecution.

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