Leading Pianist and Secularist Charged With Blasphemy In Turkey

Last Sunday, I published a column on “The Death of Free Speech”, highlighting the continuing threat of blasphemy prosecutions around the world.  This week we have yet another such disturbing case.  Well-known Turkish pianist and composer Fazil Say appeared in court on Thursday on charges of offending Muslims and insulting Islam in brief Twitter posts.  Say is a celebrated artist who has appeared with both the New York Philharmonic and the Berlin Symphony Orchestra and will now face 18 months in jail for making a joke on Twitter.

Say joked on Twitter about a prayer that lasted only second. He sent a Tweet: “Why such haste? Have you got a mistress waiting or a raki on the table?” Raki is a traditional alcoholic drink made with aniseed.

Prosecutors accused Say of inciting hatred and public enmity, and with insulting “religious values.”

Say has been a prominent critic of the rise of Islamic parties in Turkey, particularly the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who heads the largest religious based party.

While the joke is the main basis for the charge, the prosecutors have cited other tweets, including one referencing verses from the famous medieval poet and wine-lover Omar Khayyam which questioned whether heaven was a tavern or a brothel, because of the promises that wine will flow and each believer will be greeted by virgins.

I have written extensively on the rise of blasphemy or hate speech prosecutions against religious critics in the West. The Obama Administration has been working with Pakistan and other Muslim nations to develop an international standard for blasphemy prosecutions. The West has steadily yielded to the demands of religious groups that free speech must be curtailed in the name of faith. At the same time, Western governmental and religious leaders have denounced agnostics and atheists as one of the greatest threats facing the West (here and here and here and here). President Obama and Hillary Clinton have been facilitating this trend by working with Muslim nations to develop an international standard allowing for the prosecution of those who insult religion. The Administration has drawn a dangerous line with Muslim countries in first supporting the concept of an international blasphemy standard. As I have mentioned before, the efforts of the Obama Administration to work with these countries on an international blasphemy standard is a threat to free speech around the world. After first supporting an international blasphemy standard, the Administration sought to get Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and other countries to adopt the Brandenburg standard as the basis for such prosecutions. This case also shows why the use of the Brandenburg standard is so dangerous in the hands of such officials who view free speech as the cause of imminent violence. Past cases show that even the suggestion of blasphemy is enough to trigger violent riots in some Muslim nations. Because any joke or image of the Prophet can trigger violence, the standard is immediately satisfied in countries like Egypt and Pakistan, which can then claim some legal legitimacy under the standard created with the United States.

Here a joke is considered to be incitement in Turkey.

Source: Washington Post

23 thoughts on “Leading Pianist and Secularist Charged With Blasphemy In Turkey”

  1. He should apply for asylum in the US and see what the state department does with his application. Best thing this man could do is take a ferry boat to a Greek island and seek refuge. He would have merit for a claim of religious persecution, which could open some doors for his future.

    He would also do well in Western Europe with his musical talents. it seems to be a place more conducive toward employment in his profession.

  2. if you blow them up when they are full you get rid of the blasphemers and hypocrites.
    just look at what joe biden said about following his church that so happens ryan is also part of. they both pray to very dead saints. they do not pray to GOD in HEAVEN as JESUS said. who ya gonna call. THE HOLY GHOST BUSTERS?
    both candidates follow a church. the mainstream follows on both sides.

    If I write on a news blog they censor it. yet the church channels that air on regular tv even on sundays call for MY removal from the earth.
    so where does your help come from when I got arrested for, and prosecuted for shooting a church with a shot gun in scotttsdale arizona, that never happened, but, the police chaplin said that I was blasphemous against the catholic church that arrested ME.
    you think I don’t know how the courts lie first hand. the police lied also. parts of the story are on “a black pope blog being or nothingness” where I was doing the supernatural. the wasted miracles. nobody came forward. the city of scottsdale knew I was there. written as cos in The BIBLE in acts 21 it is a prophecy about scottsdale, az. but there are many too many translated BIBLES. chances are that of the number of writers on this website is close to the number of different BIBLES. when the BIBLE finally got written the native americans were still trying to figure out how to smoke tobacco.

    the same people that say MY WORD is law, pray for MY demise. so who are the blasphemers against GOD!
    they say that I will help those whom I wish. I tell them how to do things and they want ME arrested. THE BIBLE says that I am a soldier. the antichrist says on,’ chataboutgod.com ‘ starts out with hello whats your name, and at the same time tell you that God does not need to ask that question. the politicians call all this freedom speech when they want to close down this website for blasphemy.
    so tagg the turkey! their church wants to put MY SON ON A CROSS. now you know why you can’t find HIM. the churches went underground in plain sight.
    just to read the BIBLE where it says to put HIM on the cross again is a sin and originally written as such.

    I have two governors in two different states that I have emailed over the years. presidents that have known things for over twenty years and they still go to and listen to the antichrist. I was kept a secret for a reason. cos had to arrest ME first to find the problems and verify them in both michigan and arizona. this would put it on a national problem not just one state. the judges do lie, and called ME the liar.

    the true blasphemers hide in plain sight and worship other men, and NOT GOD.

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