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Turkey Prosecutes Blasphemy Too

Here’s yet another blasphemy prosecution in a Muslim country, but this one is in Turkey, which is supposed to be — and is, in most ways — the most secular Muslim country in the world (which isn’t exactly a high bar; that’s like being the friendliest serial killer in the world):

In Turkey, Fazil Say, popular composer and performer, is on trial for insulting Islam. The internationally known artist is being prosecuted under laws against inciting hatred and insulting the values of Muslims. Say rejects the charges, and demands his right to freely express himself in what is supposed to be a secular country.

On Thursday, October 18, a Turkish court adjourned the blasphemy trial of Fazil Say until February, after rejecting calls for an acquittal. Prosecutors initially brought charges against Say in June. Say faces a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison although informed observers believe any sentence is likely to be suspended.

That’s at least a lower punishment than most Muslim countries have, but it’s still a far cry from free speech.

Comments

  1. says

    In order to join the European Union, a country must abolish the death penalty. It would be nice if they were required to abolish blasphemy laws as well, but given the EU’s inconsistency on free speech that will likely never happen.

  2. Crip Dyke, MQ, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    tooo…early….

    mental picture of tyrranical, theocractic ground-birds…

    in a cartoon…

    mocking real life…

    but no.

    I shake my eyes open

    and find real life…

    mocking itself

    and me.

  3. says

    Did you really just compare countries with Muslim majorities to serial killers?

    Your own country is responsible for more killing than all the “Muslim countries” combined.

  4. davidbrown says

    Keep in mind that Turkey doesn’t just arrest people for blasphemy against Islam, it also arrests people for ‘insulting Turkishness’ and insulting the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk. Law 5651 (passed in 2007) allows the Turkish government to shutdown a website for a wide range of reasons.

    The new “no-go” criteria were: encouraging suicide; sexual abuse of children; facilitation of drug abuse; provision of dangerous substances for health care; obscenity; prostitution; gambling; or crimes regulated in Turkish Code 5816 (crimes against Atatürk).

    Private internet users are encouraged to submit offending site URLs by phone, email, or handy on-line submission.
    (See Turkey Explores the Internet, Along with Restrictions)

  5. says

    Did you really just compare countries with Muslim majorities to serial killers?

    Yes, he did. But not in degree of killingness. See:

    Muslims countries are to secularism
    as
    Serial killers are to friendliness

    Which means that since serial killers aren’t very friendly, Ed must be saying that Muslim countries aren’t very secular. Get it?

  6. Konradius says

    It shows what the goal is for these trials and these laws.
    A suspended sentence is a very direct way of saying: shut up or we’ll lock you up. And then when such a person is locked up it doesn’t draw the attention the trial gave.
    Blasphemy laws are a blight on the world. And surprisingly common, especially if you count the ones that are supposedly unenforceable like the one in the Netherlands (where I am from).

  7. Abby Normal says

    @jonnewman

    I was rather put off by the comparison to serial killers too. What’s more, it doesn’t even illustrate the point. High levels friendliness is a very common trait among serial killers.

  8. Crip Dyke, MQ, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I’m with Abby Normal on this one.

    “least violent” would have been more to the point AND more accurate, but friendliness is wrong and serial killers is off-putting not because it is inaccurate (islamic governments and governments of countries with large numbers of muslims do, in fact, routinely kill people) but because it is so misleading – as if other governments don’t routinely kill people or do so much less.

    Should have made the point earlier, but I just wasn’t awake enough to remember that metaphor by the time I’d finished reading.

  9. steve oberski says

    @Abby Normal

    That just makes the analogy more apt, as pschycopaths must present as normal in public so Islam presents the face of peace and tolerance to the West but scratch the very thin veneer and it’s all misogyny, homophobia and xenophobia bubbling away underneath.

  10. says

    Ed, I guess you should’ve said that Muslim countries tend to be as secular as rabbits are celibate. Oh, but then people will assume you’re accusing Muslms of being sex-crazed. Umm….

  11. steve oberski says

    @jonnewman

    Your own country is responsible for more killing than all the “Muslim countries” combined.

    In the case of Muslims at least, you will find that the number one killer of Muslims are other Muslims.

    The Shia/Sunni conflict dates back to the beginning of Islam, and continues unabated to this day.

    Of course in this sense Islam today is no different than pre-enlightnement Europe where xtian on xtian slaughter was just another tool of state craft, but at least our wannabe theocrats have been reigned in.

  12. slc1 says

    Re steve oberski @ #12

    Case in point, Syria, where Assad pere killed in excess of 20,000 people in the City of Hama in 1982 (Hama Rules) and where Assad fils has so far killed in excess of 30,000 people and counting since the disturbances there began more then a year ago.

  13. says

    Gretchen #6,

    I blame the Educational Testing Service (ETS) for the fact that you had to explain. They removed the venerable analogy problems from the SAT. The bastards.

    In fact:

    SAT : no analogies :: Dispatches : no Gretchen.

    Just not the same.

  14. Abby Normal says

    I’m perfectly capable of understanding analogies. I’m also adept at spotting dog whistles. Yes, semantically Ed’s meaning is the same whether he used most celibate rabbit, or clumsiest ballerina, or best Justin Bieber song. With the millions of possible, semantically equivalent, options available, why do you suppose he chose that one? Could it be an association with crazy and killing? As subtext goes, it’s not particularly subtle. Though I’d be surprised to find out Ed did it intentionally.

  15. says

    With the millions of possible, semantically equivalent, options available, why do you suppose he chose that one? Could it be an association with crazy and killing?

    I would not be surprised if Ed associates theocracy with craziness and killing, no. I certainly do.

  16. laurentweppe says

    Turkey, which is supposed to be — and is, in most ways — the most secular Muslim country in the world (which isn’t exactly a high bar; that’s like being the friendliest serial killer in the world):

    So sayeth a citizen of the most “christian” secular country in the world.

    Anyway: this is the tweet which put him in trouble:

    I am not sure if you have also realised it, but if there’s a louse, a non-entity, a lowlife, a thief or a fool, it’s always an Islamist

    Which, considering Turkey’s political landscape could be interpretated as “every criminal in existence is a religious rightwinger“, and assuming this was Say’s meaning, would be an extremely bigoted thing to say…
    .
    Now we come back to the specifics of Europe’s laws regarding speech: a bigoted discourse used as a dogwhistle to incite violence and/or oppression is going to net you a sentence, not only in Turkey but in Western Europe as well. Even if the current law allowing one to be put on trial for “insulting the religious values of a section of society” was to be abolished, Turkey would most probably use the Western Europe as its model and pass a law against bigoted dogwhistles.
    .
    The problem is… there’s virtually no context here. There are people in Turkey who use irreligiosity as a coded way to say “Fuck the Rubes, we should be allowed to rule them without their consent“; but there is no evidence that Say is in bed with such people. In fact, considering that a member of Erdogan’s cabinet came out against the trial, I’d say that such a thing is very improbable. Which means that the Turkish judiciary can at most try to harass him until the ECHR sides with him.

  17. Abby Normal says

    Re: Gretchen @16
    Nor would I, and that’s exactly what Jonnewman called him out on and I found off-putting. So I think we’re agreed, this really has nothing to do with an inability to understand analogies. Rather, you simply disagree that the associating predominately Muslim countries with serial killers is inappropriate, yes?

  18. says

    Rather, you simply disagree that the associating predominately Muslim countries with serial killers is inappropriate, yes?

    Again, you made an extra leap there. He did not associate Muslim countries with serial killers. If anything he associated theocracies with serial killers, but not directly.

  19. Chiroptera says

    …Turkey, which is supposed to be — and is, in most ways — the most secular Muslim country in the world….

    Someone can correct me since I don’t know as much about Turkish history as I should, but isn’t this sort of like calling France the most secular Catholic country in the world?

    My understanding is that the Turkish state is secular, and is almost as aggressive in its secularism as France — but maybe that has changed recently.

    On the other hand, I think a better comparison than with either Western Europe or the Islamic countries is the United States: nominally a secular republic, but maybe with rather weak democratic institutions whose roots don’t really run as deep as we might flatter ourselves, and with an increasingly vocal religious faction having a greater and greater influence in politics.

    I could be wrong, though; I haven’t followed news coming out of Turkey in recent years as closely as I should have.

  20. Abby Normal says

    Again, you made an extra leap there.

    Indeed, I did. That’s why I was asking if my assumption was correct. Ed didn’t apply the analogy to theocracies, but rather to predominantly Muslim countries, including the secular state of Turkey. So I was trying to figure out how your comment fits into that discussion. To that end I’ll ask in a different way; do you still object to Jonnewman comment @3 and if so, why?

  21. says

    Abby Normal wrote:

    I was rather put off by the comparison to serial killers too. What’s more, it doesn’t even illustrate the point. High levels friendliness is a very common trait among serial killers.

    This is a good point. And no, I didn’t really sit down and think out the comparison. I just wanted a quick and easy analogy to demonstrate that secularism is virtually unknown in the Muslim world. It’s a bad analogy, as you point out, and I could have chosen a limitless number of other analogies. But no, I was not trying to compare Muslims to serial killers (though some certainly fit the bill). Chalk it up to writing at 3 am and giving it very little thought.

  22. Abby Normal says

    Abby is to analogies as WND is to logical competency.

    Ha! I had no idea you held WND in such high regard. ;-)

  23. says

    Abby Normal said:

    Ed didn’t apply the analogy to theocracies, but rather to predominantly Muslim countries, including the secular state of Turkey.

    A theocracy is the opposite of a secular country. Ed said that being the most secular Muslim country is like being the friendliest serial killer. I took that to mean simply that Muslim countries are not very secular, just like serial killers are not very friendly. End of story, no association beyond that.

    When you guys started complaining about Muslim countries being compared to serial killers I first thought “That makes no sense at all” and then “That makes sense only if theocracy = serial killer,” and ran with that without double-checking the analogy. So, I apologize for that.

    I still think that it’s ridiculous to complain about Ed “comparing” Muslim societies to serial killers, especially now realizing that he was equating secularism to serial killers and friendliness to theocracy.

    So I was trying to figure out how your comment fits into that discussion. To that end I’ll ask in a different way; do you still object to Jonnewman comment @3 and if so, why?

    Beyond what I said above, because what Ed’s “own country” has done is utterly irrelevant to the discussion and I am so tired of people making that stupid comment on a blog which regularly complains about the slightest deviation from secularism in the “own country” of its author.

  24. Abby Normal says

    I think I’m with you, or near enough as to make no difference. I certainly agree wholeheartedly with that last paragraph. That old tactic is as tiresome as it is irrelevant. My mama’s weight has nothing to do with how fat yours is.

  25. dingojack says

    MULTIPLE CHOICE
    If 1 is to 2 as 6 is to 12, does that mean:
    a) 1 = 12
    b) 1 = 6; 2 = 12
    c) A + B = C thereore A -> B
    d) none of the above. It’s comparing ratios stoopid!

    :) Dingo
    ——
    Abby – I don’t

  26. Abby Normal says

    DJ, I’m about to speak very simply, not because I think little of your intellect (I know you’re smart) or want to talk down to you for rhetorical purposes (well, maybe a little), but mostly because I don’t think we’re communicating well and I want to be as clear as possible in order to remedy that. I hope you won’t take offense.

    Take a look at my last sentence @26. Notice it’s an analogy, similar in form to the ones we’ve been discussing. But notice that by referencing “yo mama” jokes I’ve also created a metaphor. I’m indirectly saying that this discussion has had a back and forth sniping element similar to a game of put-down. This secondary interpretation is sometimes called subtext or implied meaning. It is the implied meaning in Ed’s article that made me momentarily uncomfortable with his choice of words.

    After seeing someone else express similar distaste for the implied meaning, I figured I’d let Ed know that it wasn’t a lone reader who was put off. I thought Ed might appreciate the feedback because, if our positions were reversed, I’d want to know how I was coming across. That the analogy was also a bad one indicated he probably hadn’t put much thought into it, bolstering the notion that it might be helpful to point it out. And as they say, the rest is history.

    I hope that helps clear up what I am guessing is a misunderstanding. If after reading the above you still think I require correction, feel free. I appreciate your attempt to better me or warn other from listening to me if I’m wrong.

  27. dingojack says

    Abby – (with all possible respect) A) isn’t the right answer. [/logic pedant]
    Without trying to talk-down to you* look up ‘imply’ and ‘infer’. Who is responsible for implications, and who is responsible for interferences?
    Dingo
    —–
    * well, maybe a little
    PS: By your own logic clearly mine #23 was implying that you (Abby Normal) are logically consistent, right? ;)

  28. Abby Normal says

    Of course I made an inference. I didn’t think I had to get that simple. As I’ve said before, you and others are correct about the plain meaning of the analogy. That’s not what I’m addressing. That I perceived an additional implied meaning and drew an inference that was perhaps not intended is exactly what I was communicating. I shared my subjective interpretation because knowing how one’s words are received beyond their plain meaning can be useful information to a writer, or anyone wishing to communicate effectively. Ed has acknowledged my observation was helpful. Would that all people were so willing to put aside their ego and not act like an asshat. And lest there be any question as to who is responsible for any inferences drawn from that last sentence, stop being an asshat DJ.

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