The trend of blasphemy convictions continues this week with the disturbing case of pianist and composer Fazil Say, who merely retweeted a verse from an 11th century poet on Islamic beliefs on Twitter last year. Under these laws, people are prohibited from speaking their doubts about religious orthodoxy and beliefs. Say was given a suspended 10-month jail term and a criminal record for speaking his mind in Turkey. It is the latest example of how the Islamic government in Turkey is destroying the secular traditions of the country and once gave the country greater freedom than its Muslim neighbors.
Say, 43, was charged after he retweeted a verse from a poem by Omar Khayyám that stated: “You say rivers of wine flow in heaven, is heaven a tavern to you? You say two huris [companions] await each believer there, is heaven a brothel to you?” Say also used Twitter to poke fun at a muezzin (a caller to prayer) and certain religious practices.
While the Obama Administration has sought to appease these countries in developing an international blasphemy standard, this case shows how even the more modern Islamic countries (as well as Western countries) are finding blasphemy to be a useful vehicle to control speech and silence critics.