Ankara: A classical and jazz pianist with an international career and Turkish origin, Fazil Say, has been charged with insulting Islamic values in his Twitter messages, a popular social networking website, by a Turkish court.
Fazil Say is going to be tried in a court as the Turkish government is actively taking actions against the Turkish artists, writers and intellectuals for insulting comments they make about religion and Turkish national identity and Say’s trail is a part of this latest series.
According to the semi-official Anatolian news agency, Fazil Say has been accused of the charges “publicly insulting religious values that are adopted by a part of the nation.” He has attained the age of 42 and is also a composer.
If charges are proved against him, the Turkish court is likely to send him in imprisonment for up to 18 months. The trail against him will start on October 18 this year.
Condemnation against Twitter messages is a rare scene in Turkey. Say wrote some Twitter posts himself but the post for he has been charged, was written by someone else and passed along by Say via his Twitter account. An Islamic vision of the afterlife has been made fun of in the Twitter post.
Say defended himself saying that he referred to a poem by the 11th and 12th-century Persian poet, Omar Khayyam, when he tweeted, “Likening heaven's promise of rivers of wine to a tavern and of virgins to a brothel.”
A tweet that was written by Say joked about a muezzin's rapid delivery of the call to prayer, asking if he wanted to get away quickly for a drink.
Say openly introduces himself as an atheist in the country of Muslim-majority, Turkey, where his acceptance is controversial. He has been involved in criticizing the pro-Islamic Justice and Development Party government over its cultural and social policies at a number of occasions.
Say said that the controversial tweet was posted from Slovenia and he was among the 165 people who shared the Twitter post on the vision of Islamic paradise.
He stated, “I just thought it was a funny allegory and retweeted the message.”
“It is unbelievable that it 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,” he added.
During the recent history of Turkey, Islam and Turkish identity mockery charges have confronted many national intellectuals and writers.
“Turks have killed 30,000 Kurds and one million Armenians,” was the comment by a Nobel laureate, Orhan Pamuk, for a Swiss newspaper last year for which he was fined $3700 by the Turkish government.
The European Union, which Turkey is seeking to join, and other international organizations have criticized such actions as violations of free speech.