Once upon a time, we were proud of Turkey for its secular ideas. We used to read a poem that was in our syllabus. The great Bengali poet Kazi Nazrul Islam wrote a poem congratulating Turkey’s great leader Mustafa Kemal for dismantling the Turkish caliphate and the powerful Khilafat movement.
‘Oi ksepechhey pagli ma-er damal chheley Kamal bhai,
Oshur-purey shore uthechhey shamal shamal tai.
Kamal, tu ne kamal kiya bhai !
Ho Ho Kamal, tu ne kamal kiya bhai!’
(Yonder, brothers, the raving mom’s indomitable
son Kamal has become enraged
That’s why, in the abode of demons, there is an uproar
‘Be ware,’ ‘Be on guard’!
Kamal, you have achieved unbelievable success, brother!
Ho Ho, Kamal, you have achieved unbelievable success, brother!)
The secular Turkey is now walking backwards towards the dark ages. It sentenced a renowned pianist Fazil Say for his tweets and sayings based on his belief in atheism.
World-renowned Turkish pianist Fazıl Say, who was sentenced to 10 months in prison for blasphemy in April, was again sentenced to 10 months by an Istanbul court today in a retrial.
Say had received a suspended 10-month prison sentence on charges of “insulting religious beliefs held by a section of the society,” for re-tweeting several lines, which are attributed to poet Omar Khayyam.
Say’s lawyers had demanded his suspension be canceled. His demand had been accepted by the court, and the court had paved the way for Say to be re-tried.
The 19th Istanbul Peace Court sentenced Say to 10 months in prison but since Say has no criminal record, the court suspended the sentence and ordered supervised liberty.
If Say does not commit another crime within two years, the case will be dropped.
The pianist will be able to appeal the verdict at the Supreme Court of Appeals.
Say was convicted after retweeted the several lines attributed to poet Omar Khayyam: “You say its rivers will flow in wine. Is the Garden of Eden a drinking house? You say you will give two houris to each Muslim. Is the Garden of Eden a whorehouse?”
Turkey should release Fazil Say unconditionally and now. Turkey should respect everyone’s right to freedom of expression. Turkey should know that everybody has the right to blaspheme. Blasphemy should not be considered a crime in Turkey.
Turkey was an ideal country progressive people used to be proud of. But no one now is proud of Turkey. Not anymore.