Pianist Fazil Say Under Investigation for Twitter Messages

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - 05:00 PM

The Istanbul prosecutor's office has launched an investigation against the Turkish pianist Fazil Say over statements he made on Twitter about Islam and Islamic values.

The prosecutor's office has said that Say also made offensive remarks about Christianity and Judaism, statements which may violate Turkish law forbidding the incitement of hatred towards another religious, social or ethnic group, reports the National Turk. If found guilty, the pianist could face up to three years in prison.

It is not clear yet if charges will be brought against Say but the case has elicited strong reactions in the Turkish news media and raised concerns over freedom of speech.

Say, who is scheduled to perform at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Friday, did not respond to requests for comment about the investigation.

The 42-year-old Say is known as an outspoken, irreverent personality, both on and off stage, and is a self-described atheist. One of the Tweets he reportedly sent out questioned whether heaven in the Islamic faith is "like a brothel or pub," according to a report in Today's Zaman.

The pianist later removed the tweets from his account. He has since mounted a defense of free speech on his Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Say was named a cultural ambassador by the European Union in 2008.


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Comments [3]

Hi everyone, Fazil Say is a very respected personality in Turkey. Lines he quoted in his twitter account were belonging to a persian philosopher, mathematician and poet Gıyaseddin Eb'ul Feth Ömer İbni İbrahim'el Hayyam (May 1048-Dec 1131). Poet is questioning the description of heaven in the Kur'an, which promise each men several women and fountains of vines. Gıyaseddin Eb'ul Feth Ömer İbni İbrahim'el Hayyam is well known poet in islamic world's literature. Fazil Say simply highlighted the ethical contradiction of some believers. We do talk politics and religion in Turkey; we are trying to preserve our freedom of speech despite the fanatic conservatives, who recently started to intervene in personal lives aggressively. Its proper not to talk religion and politics unless somebody is aggressively imposing his believes. Latter is happening in Turkey right now, government is pressuring and brainwashing its people to be religious Muslims. He is not being investigated because he quoted a known, thousand years old poem, he is investigated for being Atheist and expressing it. Part assimilation policy of the new Islamist government. Please don't judge before knowing the reality, I am big fan of him.

May. 30 2012 09:38 PM
concetta nardone from Nassau county

What is this urge to share one's innermost thoughts and secrets on Facebook and Twitter. GSA workers were sending pictures of their parties on Facebook. Anthony Wiener sending out lewd fotos of himself to women, etc. Whatever happened to shame? We now have prospective employers asking for the password of Facebook when interviewing job-applicants. We've become a world of voyeurs and exhibitionists, also exceedingly stupid. Mayor Bloomberg remarked a few months ago "why do people put all this info on themselves out there." Good question.

Apr. 23 2012 12:38 PM
Mat Dirjish from NYC

Unlike sound and light, it never ceases to amaze me that common sense is the slowest moving element on the planet. For centuries, parents like mine and others have imparted an infallible wisdom to us "kids": never discuss religion, politics, or money. Apparently a lot of "kids" were not home for that lesson.

Apr. 19 2012 10:33 AM

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