Famous Turkish Pianist in Trouble Over Islam Tweets
Turkish pianist Fazil Say, known for his elegant folk melodies and eccentric stage performances, has found himself in a lot of hot water with his government over some recent tweets.
Say faces possible jail time for having made fun of a very short public prayer call, tweeting "Why such haste? Have you got a mistress waiting or a raki on the table" to the muezzin, or person who stands in the prominent mosque towers and issues a call to prayer. Raki is an alcoholic drink produced from aniseed, prohibited by Islam, as is extra-marital affairs, so Muslims are outraged at the comment.
In addition to his personal tweet, Say recently retweeted a comment that compared a poem by 11th Century Persian poet Omar Khayyam's vision of Heaven’s "rivers of wine" to hanging out in a tavern and of its many virgins to spending time in a brothel. Although Say did not come up with the tweet, his sharing of it only deepened his targeting by the Turkish legal system.
Say has lent his talents to the New York Philharmonic, Berlin Symphony Orchestra and a number of other venues over the years, and his international renown has earned him a place as a European Union Cultural Ambassador. Say, a self-professed Atheist, has been a frequent critic of Turkey's Islamic-led government's social policies. He faces up to 18 months in prison if convicted, and has publicly stated that he may flee the country if Turkey legally proceeds.
Turkish intellectuals and more progressive citizens have protested in anger over the charges, and the United Nations has repeatedly stated that Turkey has overstepped its authority in freedom of speech issues. Say deleted his tweets, and ultimately closed his Twitter account over the furor.
Want to support Fazil Say and free speech? Why not send out a tweet today with the hashtag topic of #HeavenIsLike? After all, healthy discourse is a mainstay of any growing, healthy organization, faith-based or not.
Image courtesy Fazil Say's official site.