Another artist was persecuted for offending Turkey’s nouveau establishment this week when the pianist Fazıl Say was handed an eight month prison sentence for comments he made on Twitter. His tweets from last April, long since removed from his @FazilSayOfficial account, were deemed to be blasphemous and offensive to the country’s Muslim population.
Fazıl Say is a vocal critic of the government, which helped to attract extensive coverage
of the outcome to his trial in Turkey and abroad
. There are three observations that can be drawn from his conviction.
Rather than lamenting the law or the government, Turkish people should be worried about their compatriots, those in their society who use the law to seek reparations for their hurt feelings.
Bukağılı is one such person; another example is the lawyer Kemal Kerinçsiz, who filed the original case against Mr Pamuk. He was subsequently himself arrested and is currently being tried for alleged membership of the shadowy Ergenekon network.
An excellent column in Hürriyet, referring to Mr Bukağılı by only his initials presumably in fear of legal repercussions, quotes him as saying he believes in freedom of expression, but only if it does not offend him personally. Speaking in 2011, he defended the practice of censoring criticism of religion by saying “other people have no need to read a book that offends me”.
These are warped attitudes and everyone should be concerned about them. The trouble is that Turkish society’s attitudes are going through a revolution and until its myriad components learn to better tolerate one another, cases like that of Fazıl Say will keep coming.
Last modified: Friday 27 September 2013