Turkish Composer and Pianist Fazil Say Sentenced for “Insulting Muslim Values”

So reports the BBC; the sentence is 10 months’ suspended, so that he will not go to jail on this occasion, but he “would be subject to the prison time should he commit a similar crime within five years,” according to BusinessWeek.com.

The case against him was based on about half a dozen postings on Twitter mentioned in the indictment, including one mentioning a Turkish liquor and whiskey: “What if there is raki in paradise but not in hell, while there is Chivas Regal in hell and not in paradise? What will happen then? This is the most important question!”

Say’s comments in April 2012 drew criticism from some in predominantly Muslim Turkey, as alcohol is banned by Islam. Say said he was only criticizing the exploitation of religion for profit.

Another tweet cited in the indictment was a retweet saying, “I am not sure if you have also realised it, but if there’s a louse, a non-entity, a lowlife, a thief or a fool, it’s always an Allah-ist.” The Guardian (UK) adds:

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 made fun of a muezzin (a caller to prayer) and certain religious practices.

Fazil Say is apparently quite prominent, and has even “served as a cultural ambassador for the EU.” Thanks to Ipek Bozkurt for the pointer.