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Appeal to Turkish Justice Minister to end trial of God-denying pianist

Fazil Say is due back in court tomorrow (update here) to face charges of religious defamation – blasphemy, in other words – for avowing his right to be an atheist on Twitter. The following letter has been posted tonight by British musicians and writers:

 

Minister of Justicefazil
06669 Kizil
Ankara
Turkey

17 February 2013

Dear Minister

We are joining with English PEN to protest the charges against our fellow composer, musician and writer Fazıl Say.

On 18 February 2013, celebrated pianist, composer and writer Fazıl Say will appear in court for the second time for comments posted on the social networking service Twitter.

Say has been charged with religious defamation under Article 216/3 of the Turkish Penal Code in response to a series of messages posted on Twitter, including one which simply states ‘I am an atheist and I am proud to be able to say this so comfortably’. He has also been charged under Article 218 of the Turkish Penal Code, which increases sentences by half for offences committed ‘via press or broadcast’. Say denies the charges.

The charges are in violation of Say’s right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Turkey is a signatory. Even those who are usually critical of Say have voiced concerns over this case, which they believe could be damaging to Turkey’s international reputation.

Say first appeared in court in Istanbul on 18 October 2012, where his lawyers demanded his immediate acquittal. The acquittal call was rejected and the case adjourned until 18 February 2013. He faces up to 18 months in prison if found guilty.

Fazıl Say is gravely concerned about the negative impact a prison sentence would have on his career as the country’s leading classical composer and an internationally renowned pianist. Furthermore, he has suggested that he would consider moving abroad as a result of the ‘growing culture of intolerance’ in Turkey.

As fellow composers, musicians and writers who cherish both creative freedom and the right to free expression we strongly urge you to drop all charges against Fazıl Say immediately and unconditionally.

Yours sincerely

Thomas Adès

Alan Ayckbourn

William Boyd

Brian Eno

Moris Farhi

Michael Frayn

Maureen Freely

Roland Gift

David Hare

Charles Hazlewood

Eva Hoffman

Hanif Kureishi

Ian McEwan

Kamila Shamsie

Gillian Slovo

Ahdaf Soueif

Salil Tripathi

 


Sayın Sadullah Ergin

Adalet Bakanı
06669 Kızılay
Ankara
Türkiye

17 Şubat 2013

Sayın Bakan,

Sevgili meslektaşımız, besteci, müzisyen ve yazar Fazıl Say’a yönelik suçlamaları protesto etmek amacıyla İngiliz PEN’e destek oluyoruz.

18 Şubat 2013 günü, ünlü piyanist, besteci ve yazar Fazıl Say, sosyal paylaşım sitesi Twitter’da yapmış olduğu yorumlar nedeniyle ikinci kez mahkemeye çıkacak.

Say, Twitter’da postaladığı bir dizi mesajın ardından, Türk Ceza Kanunu’nun 216. maddesinin üçüncü bendi uyarınca dine hakaret suçundan yargılanıyor. Yaptığı yorumlardan birisinde, Say sadece “Ateistim ve bunu bu kadar rahat söyleyebildiğim için gururluyum.” diyordu. Say’ın suçuna verilecek cezanın, Türk Ceza Kanunu’nun 218. maddesi uyarınca, basın ve yayın yoluyla işlenmesi nedeniyle, yarı oranına kadar arttırılması talep ediliyor. Say ise hakkında yapılan ithamları reddediyor.

Yapılan suçlamalar, Say’ın ifade özgürlüğünün ihlalidir. İfade özgürlüğü Uluslararası Medeni ve Siyasi Haklar Sözleşmesi tarafından korunmaktadır ve Türkiye de bu sözleşmeye taraftır. Fazıl Say’ı pek çok yönden eleştirmiş olanlar dahi, bu davanın Türkiye’nin uluslararası itibarına zarar vereceği düşüncesi ile bu dava yönündeki endişelerini dile getirmişlerdir.

Say ilk olarak 18 Ekim 2012’de mahkemeye çıkarıldı, ve bu duruşmada Say’ın avukatı, Say’ın derhal beraat ettirilmesini talep etti. Beraat talebi reddedildi ve dava 18 Şubat 2013 tarihine ertelendi. Say’ın suçlu bulunması halinde 18 aya kadar hapis cezası isteniyor.

Fazıl Say, hapis cezasının, ülkenin önde gelen klasik müzik bestecisi ve uluslararası düzeyde tanınan piyanisti olarak, kariyeri üzerine olacak etkileri konusunda oldukça endişeleniyor. Ayrıca Say, Türkiye’deki “giderek büyüyen hoşgörüsüzlük ortamında” yurtdışına göç edebileceğini belirtti.

Yaratıcı özgürlüğe ve ifade özgürlüğüne gönülden bağlı müzisyen, besteci ve yazarlar olarak, sizi Fazıl Say aleyhine olan tüm suçlamaları derhal ve koşulsuz olarak düşürmeye çağırıyoruz.

Saygılar,

Thomas Adès

Alan Ayckbourn

William Boyd

Brian Eno

Moris Farhi

Michael Frayn

Maureen Freely

Roland Gift

David Hare

Charles Hazlewood

Eva Hoffman

Hanif Kureishi

Ian McEwan

Kamila Shamsie

Gillian Slovo

Ahdaf Soueif

Salil Tripathi

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Comments

  1. Jason Kelly says:

    No one should ever face trial because of their own religious beliefs. Live and let live!

  2. Demet Köklükaya says:

    Fazıl Say’ın bu gerekçelerle yargılanması yargı sistemimizin akıl,mantık,adalet ve vicdandan ne kadar uzaklaştığını gösteriyor. Çok yazık .

  3. Even if the Turkish government responds and withdraws the charges, it still says volumes that Turkey should have such statutes on the books. Similarly, Sections 301 and 305 of the Turkish Penal code penalize critics of the regime for “insulting the dignity of the Turkish nation”. These are reasons why the EU has been hesitant to grant membership status to Turkey.

  4. Abigail Clifford says:

    this is so disappointing, coming from a wonderful country like Turkey. Religion should have nothing to do with the running of a modern state.

  5. oleg sherstiucoff says:

    Science, as physicist Steven Weinberg has emphasized, does not make it impossible to believe in God, but rather makes it possible to not believe in God. But without science, everything is a miracle,so that there is no factual evidence of existence of any omnipotent power.
    I just wonder what kind of evidence the state prosecution can present to prove their claim in the first place…pure absurdity! Anyway it is not the case of the Turkish nation being non-European,but the Turkish State with its legislation

  6. Pınar Ergen says:

    Değerlerimizin birer birer yok edilmesini görmek çok acıtıcı.

  7. There should be no place for this backward action in a Secular (laik) country that Turkey used to be. This is an insult to Ataturk’s reforms and vision for his country.

  8. oleg sherstiucoff says:

    As I was already saying it is not the case of the Turkish nation being non-European,but the Turkish State with its legislation are.
    My personal observations of Turkish subjects of Kurdish ethnicity are that them as being the culprits in most cases of violence against women throughout the mainland Turkey,and not only in Asia Minor,while leftist affiliations of Kurds have brought only nothing.

  9. Whatever the worth, or lack thereof, of the war in Iraq, Turkey certainly did not go out of its way to assist the US. Quite the contrary, they denied the US transport through Turkey for their supply lines. In addition, Erdogan has gone out of his way to align himself with Hezbollah and other radical islamist, hardly a position in support of US policy. Great cuisine, but a typically backward third world country.

  10. What else than this can you expect from a government ruled by islamic hocas?? This country decided to go back to the Middle Ages – and unfortunately everyone (in the EU) seems to applaud.

  11. oleg sherstiucoff says:

    “Turkey’s place isn’t in the EU, but in the annals of failed states and washed-up dictatorships.
    The latest stage in this parody of justice is that Fazil Say’s lawyers have been compelled to claim he is suffering from ‘autism’. It’s like the last days of Stalinism.”

    A bit hard,but you are right here

  12. oleg sherstiucoff says:

    “Great cuisine, but a typically backward third world country.”
    Well put !

  13. Reiner, the Turks were bombing the Kurds, NOT for the US, but for the Turks themselves who have mistreated the Kurds very badly indeed. The Kurds were NOT fighting the US in Iraq, so how would this Turkish attack be of aid to the Americans? As a matter of fact, the headline in the article you cite says that this attack could be costly to the US.

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