Fazil Say is a 42-year-old Turkish pianist who should be old enough to know better. Sending tweets that could be interpreted as insulting Islam are ill-advised for anyone, really – but when you’re from a country with documented freedom of speech concerns, it’s downright suicidal.
Say faces charges of inciting hatred and public enmity, and insulting “religious values” for allegedly mocking Islamic beliefs about paradise in April. And if convicted, he could spend up to a year and half in jail.
In one tweet cited in the indictment, Say said: “What if there is raki (traditional anisette drink) in paradise but not in hell, while there is Chivas Regal (scotch) in hell and not in paradise? What will happen then? This is the most important question!!”
Islam forbids alcohol. Everyone knows THAT, come on.
Another post by Say, a retweet, questioned whether paradise was a “brothel?” according to the indictment. If that isn’t ‘in your face’ I’m not sure what is. Yikes.
According to Say, this is more about him being an atheist than anything else:
“When I said that I was an atheist, everyone insulted me and the legal authorities jumped on everything that I wrote on Twitter. I am perhaps the first person anywhere in the world to be the object of a judicial inquiry for declaring that they are an atheist.”
He had been feeling very unwelcome as of late and had pondered moving to China. He probably should have done that.
It’s a shame all around, really. The fact that he CAN’T say what he wants, as well as his inability to keep these comments to himself while knowing there could be consequences.
Let’s take a listen to him playing and forget all of this unpleasantness for a moment, hmm? He’s very talented:
We’ll be watching to see what happens – will you! And are there any predictions from the peanut gallery?
(Pianist image from Shutterstock)