A Turkish court has convicted pianist and composer Fazil Say of blasphemy and inciting hatred through a series of comments he had made on Twitter last year.
According to his lawyer, Meltem Akyol, the musician was given a suspended 10-month jail term. Akyol also said that his client would have to serve the term if he committed a similar offense within the next five years.
Ten months in jail for saying something “blasphemous” on Twitter! Suspended, but not suspended if he does it again in the next five years. “Blasphemous” for fuck’s fucking sake – a non-existent “crime” against a non-existent “deity” who is supposed to be all-powerful and all-knowing which if it is why would it give the tiniest damn in the world about one human being saying something? Why would it want that human being punished for saying it?
[Fazil] went on trial for denigrating Islam last October for a series of tweets earlier that year. In one of his messages he had retweeted a verse from a poem by Omar Khayyám in which the 11th-century Persian poet attacks pious hypocrisy: “You say rivers of wine flow in heaven, is heaven a tavern to you? You say two huris [companions] await each believer there, is heaven a brothel to you?” In other tweets, he had made fun of a muezzin (caller to prayer) and certain religious practices.
And for that the authorities in Turkey think he should get ten months in jail, unsuspended if he does it again.
Artists and intellectuals have repeatedly been targeted in Turkey for voicing their opinions, and the case against Say has renewed concerns about the Turkish government’s stance towards freedom of expression. The composer has been a vocal critic of the ruling AK party and the Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“Concerns”? The time for “concerns” is past. The Turkish government’s stance towards freedom of expression is obvious: it thinks there should not be any.