In Turkey, Fazil Say, celebrated pianist, composer and atheist, has been convicted of “explicitly insulting religious values” for posting a series of tweets critical of Islam.
The popular international music star was given a suspended 10-month jail sentence for insulting Muslim values on Monday, April 15.
In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Say said:
"Although I am innocent and have not committed any crime, this decision I received is more worrisome for the freedom of expression and belief in Turkey than it is to me as a person."
In April of 2012, Say came under investigation by the Istanbul Prosecutor's Office over statements made on Twitter, declaring himself an atheist and retweeting a message poking fun at the Islamic conception of paradise. Say’s so-called “blasphemous” tweets included the following:
You say rivers of wine flow in heaven: is heaven a tavern to you?/ You say two hours await each believer there: is heaven a brothel to you?”
The muezzin finished the call to prayer in 22 seconds. What’s the rush? A lover? A raki [alcoholic drink] on the table?”
"Fazıl Say (Turkish pronunciation: [faːˈzɯl saj]; born January 14, 1970), is a Turkish pianist and composer born in Ankara, Turkey.
In April 2012, Say came under investigation by the Istanbul Prosecutor's Office over statements made on Twitter, declaring himself an atheist and retweeting a message poking fun at the Islamic conception of paradise. Say then announced that he was considering leaving Turkey to live in Japan because of the rise of conservative Islam and growing intolerance in his home country. On 1 June 2012, an Istanbul court indicted Say with the crime of "publicly insulting religious values that are adopted by a part of the nation", a crime that carries a penalty of up to 18 months in prison. According to Anatolia news agency, Say told the Istanbul court he did not seek to insult anybody, but was merely expressing his uneasiness. The court adjourned the case to February 18 after rejecting his lawyers’ request for an immediate acquittal. On April 15, 2013, Say was sentenced to 10 months in jail, reduced from 12 months for good behavior in court. The sentence was suspended, so he will be allowed to roam provided he does not commit the same offense in 5 years."