A pianist and composer has been convicted of blasphemy and inciting religious hatred for a series of tweets criticizing Islam by the government of Turkey, allegedly the most liberal of the Muslim-dominated countries. Fazil Say was charged and convicted after quoting Persian poet Omar Khayyám:
A Turkish court has convicted pianist and composer Fazil Say of blasphemy and inciting hatred over a series of comments he had made on Twitter last year…
Say who was not present at the hearing, issued a statement describing the verdict “a sad one for Turkey”. He denied the charges, saying they were politically motivated.
The 43-year-old went on trial in October accused of denigrating Islam in a series of tweets earlier last year. In one message he retweeted a verse from a poem by Omar Khayyám in which the 11th-century Persian poet attacks pious hypocrisy: “You say rivers of wine flow in heaven, is heaven a tavern to you? You say two huris [companions] await each believer there, is heaven a brothel to you?” In other tweets, he had made fun of a muezzin (a caller to prayer) and certain religious practices.