Turkish pianist Fazil Say accused of insulting Islam (via twitter)

Turkish composer and international classical and jazz pianist Fazil Say has been charged by a court in Istanbul in Turkey of insulting Islam via a series of messages on twitter.

He is one of several artists facing similar charges. Meanwhile the West is turning a blind eye to a hard-line Islamic government and the creeping Islamisation of what has been a secular society in Turkey.

Fazil Say faces 18 months in prison for ‘publicly insulting religious values that are adopted by a part of the nation’. It is unusual for twitter posts to be the subject of an indictment in Turkey. Some were original messages, others re-tweets.

One re-tweet poked fun at an Islamic vision of the afterlife, likening heaven’s promise of rivers of wine to a tavern and of virgins to a brothel. It referred to a poem by the 11th-century Persian poet Omar Khayyam.

Another tweet joked about a muezzin’s rapid delivery of the call to prayer, asking if he wanted to get away quickly for a drink.

Many intellectuals and writers have faced similar charges in recent years, including Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, who last year was fined $3,700 for saying in a Swiss newspaper that Turks ‘have killed 30,000 Kurds and 1 million Armenians’, a simple statement of fact which successive Turkish regimes have refused to acknowledge.

Orhan Pamuk was forced to flee Turkey. Attacks on him led to an international outcry.

Turkey is to be commended for sheltering refugees from the brutal Assad regime in Syria, but we should not let this hide human rights abuses within Turkey itself.

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