Turkey: Pianist Fazil Say under investigation again

Musician already risks 18-month sentence for blasphemous tweets

30 November, 18:00

(ANSAmed) - ANKARA, NOVEMBER - Turkish pianist of world renown Fazil Say has once again run into legal problems. Say is already on trial for blasphemy and risks an 18-month sentence for ironic tweets on Islam, while Turkish daily Sabah reports that an Istanbul prosecutor has begun further judicial proceedings against him for allegedly insulting judicial bodies. The crime he is said to have committed is in relation to a number of statements made during the trial underway, which he called ''ridiculous'' in a televised interview. Say also called those who reported him to the judicial authorities over his comments on Islam ''the dregs of the earth'', reports Sabah. If the latest judicial proceedings begun by an Uskudar prosecutor lead to a trial, Say risks a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison. In the trial that began on October 18 against him in a Istanbul tribunal, the 42-year-old Say - a self-professed atheist and leftist - is charged with ''insulting religious values'' and may be sentenced to up to 18 months in prison. Say, a leading pianist called the ''Turkish Mozart'' by the German press and who has played with the most important orchestras in the world, was charged after being reported by three conservative religious citizens who were ''shocked'' by his sarcastic messages. In one of these messages he commented on the call to prayer of an Istanbul muezzin which lasted only 22 seconds. ''Why such haste?'' he tweeted. ''Perhaps a woman? Raki (ed. the Turkish national alcoholic drink)?''. Another was inspired by the famous Persian poet Omar Khayyam, and pokes fun at the rivers of wine and the myriad virgins said to fill heaven. '' Does that mean it's a heavenly pub? You say that virgins will be given to every believer? Does this mean that it's a heavenly house of prostitution?'' (ANSAmed).


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