ISTANBUL (AFP) - Acclaimed pianist Fazil Say is to stand trial Thursday on charges of insulting religious values in a series of provocative tweets about Islam, a case that is likely to revive fears of Islamisation of Turkish society. The virtuoso will be tried under Article 216 of the Turkish penal code, which makes insults against religious values and instigation of enmity punishable by prison terms, according to his lawyer, Meltem Akyol. If convicted, he could face up to 18 months in prison, according to Akyol, who said that Say was expected to be present at the Istanbul court for the hearing.
The indictment reported by NTV news channel included some of his controversial tweets, including one where he said “I am not sure if you have also realised it, but all the pricks, low-lives, buffoons, thieves, jesters, they are all Allahists.” Say was also the target of public rage when he tweeted he would choose between heaven or hell based on which one offered alcohol, and when he mocked a muezzin for his short call to prayer, asking if he was in a rush to unite with alcohol, or his lover.
There are also other cases pending against the virtuoso, filed by individuals infuriated by his remarks on social networks. The staunch secularist has also regularly criticised the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), accusing it of having a secret agenda to Islamise Turkey.