Turkish court sentences pianist Say to 10 months after re-trial
A file picture dated Feb. 24, 2009 shows Turkish pianist and composer Fazıl Say during a concert rehearsal at Laeiszhalle in Hamburg. (Photo: EPA, Bodo Marks)
An İstanbul court on Friday sentenced Turkish pianist Fazıl Say to 10 months in prison on charges of insulting Islamic religious values in comments he made on Twitter, after a retrial ordered by a higher court.
The İstanbul 29th Court of First Instance in April ordered the retrial for Say after the defendant appealed a ruling by the İstanbul 19th Peace Court that sentenced him to 10 months in prison. The court delayed the announcement of the verdict and said Say would be sent to jail if he commits a similar crime in the next five years.
The İstanbul 19th Peace Court on Friday announced its decision after the retrial, upholding the 10-month prison sentence, but this time did not delay the announcement of the verdict -- paving the way for the pianist to appeal the verdict at the Supreme Court of Appeals.
In early April, Say posted controversial tweets questioning whether heaven in Islamic belief is like a brothel or pub, because the Quran says there are rivers of wine and houris (very beautiful women) in heaven for those who commit good deeds while they are on Earth.
Among Say's most controversial tweets were “I am not sure if you have noticed, but where there is a louse, a non-entity, a lowlife, thief or fool, they are all pro-Allah.”
Say also tweeted about a muezzin who recited the evening call to prayer in 22 seconds, questioning whether he was in a rush to reunite with his lover or go to a rakı table.
Say explained his controversial tweets as verses from a poem by Omar Khayyam, a Persian poet.
The prosecutor's office has found that Say's statements run contrary to the first and third points of Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). These points concern the offenses of “fomenting hatred and enmity among the public” and “insulting religious values.”