Fazil Say, celebrated Turkish pianist and composer, has been convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to 10 months in prison by an Istanbul court for posting a series of “religiously offensive” tweets critical of Islam.
The 19th Istanbul Peace Court sentenced Say to 10 months in prison on Friday, Sept. 20, according to the Hurriyet Daily News and other sources. Say, who was not present at Friday's hearing, was also placed on a two-year probation, his lawyer Meltem Akyol said, adding that he planned to appeal the verdict.
Say was originally sentenced last April for allegedly inciting religious hatred and insulting Islamic values for the a series of tweets he posted last year. Friday’s conviction was a result of a retrial on those charges.
Say, who has performed with the New York Philharmonic and been an ambassador to the EU, was convicted for re-tweeting the following:
I am not sure if you have also realized it, but if there's a louse, a non-entity, a lowlife, a thief or a fool, it's always an Islamist.
and tweeting several lines attributed to poet Omar Khayyam:
You say its rivers will flow in wine. Is the Garden of Eden a drinking house? You say you will give two houris to each Muslim. Is the Garden of Eden a whorehouse?
Say defended his tweets at a concert performance last year, saying:
“Many intellectual friends and journalists are behind bars for reasons we can’t know or understand. I can’t even begin to explain this era. Believe me this reminds me of Nazi Germany the most. It is perhaps an honour to be tried because of retweeting a verse of Khayyam in an era like this… I have committed no crime… We are modern individuals, not a flock.”
Say also added, “If this is a dark era, then let us enlighten it.”