Turkey: Pianist Fazıl Say in court for the second time
The celebrated Turkish pianist, composer and writer Fazıl Say will be appearing in court for the second time on Monday 18 February 2013.
Fazıl Say is on trial for some comments he posted on Twitter and is charged for blasphemy and insulting religious values, with a possible 18-month prison prison sentence. (More about the charges below).
Ahead of the hearing, English PEN has now set up a so-called Thunderclap. This means that you can join English PEN in sending a mass message of support for Fazıl Say, by supporting them on Thunderclap.
Participants in the Thunderclap agree for an automatic message to be sent from their Twitter and/or Facebook account, but it will only happen if English PEN reach their target of 100 supporters by Monday morning 18 February. If the target is reached, a mass message goes from the accounts of all participants simultaneously.
English PEN has asked leading British composers and musicians, as well as high-profile members of English PEN, to add their names to an open letter that they will be sending to the Minister of Justice.
Fazil Say has long been a controversial artist in Turkey. He is a classical musician who declares himself an atheist in a country where the majority are Muslims and listen to anything but Western classical music.
Fazil Say is accused of insulting people’s Islamic values and incite hatred, because he, along with 165 other persons, forwarded a quote on Twitter of the Persian poet Omar Khayyam from the 11th century. Elsewhere on Twitter, he had stated that he is an atheist and is proud that he can say it so openly.
“I just thought it was a funny allegory and retweeted the message. It is unbelievable that it was 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,” Fazil Say was quoted as saying.
The 42-year-old piano virtuoso will be tried under Article 216 of Turkish Penal Code, which makes insults against religious values and instigation of enmity punishable by prison terms.