Musician on trial for ‘offensive’ tweet
A world-renowned Turkish pianist and composer appeared in court yesterday to defend himself against charges of offending Muslims and insulting Islam in comments he made on Twitter.
Fazil Say is on trial for sending tweets that included one in April that joked about a call to prayer that lasted only 22 seconds. He allegedly tweeted: “Why such haste? Have you got a mistress waiting or a raki on the table?” Raki is an alcoholic drink made with aniseed. Islam forbids alcohol and many Muslims consider the remarks offensive.
Prosecutors charged Mr Say, 42, with inciting hatred and public enmity, and with insulting “religious values”. He faces 18 months in jail, although any sentence is likely to be suspended.
Mr Say, who has served as a cultural ambassador for the European Union, has reportedly rejected the charges and demanded his acquittal.
His trial was adjourned until 18 February and he was granted the right not to appear at later hearings due to his concert schedules.
The prosecution has angered intellectuals in Turkey amid concerns over freedom of expression. Hundreds of supporters went to the court in Istanbul in a show of solidarity, holding up signs that read: “Free Art, Free World.”
Mr Say is a strong critic of the Islamic-rooted government of conservative premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
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