Renowned Turkish pianist on trial for insulting Islam

A world-renowned Turkish pianist is on trial on charges of inciting religious hatred and insulting Islam in comments he made on Twitter in April.

Forty-two year old Fazil Say appeared in an Istanbul courtroom Thursday to defend himself against the charges, which stemmed from several tweets making jokes about Muslims. If convicted, he faces up to 18 months in prison.

In court, Say demanded an immediate acquittal, but the judge adjourned the trial February 18.

Say has served as cultural ambassador for the European Union and has performed with several orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic and the Berlin Symphony Orchestra.

Photo: Gudrun Meyer

His case has raised concerns Turkey is tightening controls on freedom of speech. At least 100 demonstrators showed up at the courthouse to protest his trial.

Turkey has a secular government, but nearly all its population is Muslim.


(Main photo: Cristina Nichitus)