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Blasphemy in Turkey

Blasphemy repressing Turkish people


Update: A pity God was not a bit more liberal when handing out a sense of humour...

Man jailed in Turkey over jokey tweets about religion

Link Here30th May 2014
Full story: Blasphemy in Turkey...Blasphemy repressing Turkish people
A Turkish court handed a 15-month jail term to a teacher over Twitter posts deemed religiously offensive, local media reported.

The court in the city of Mus ruled that the man, identified as Ertan P., supposedly insulted Islamic values with his Twitter handle @allah, and a series of tweets he posted. Pretending to tweet as God, he wrote:

In my present state of mind, I would not have created the little finger of human beings.

Here (heaven) is very safe because there is no police.



Update: Social Blasphemy...

Turkey initiates mass blasphemy prosecution of posters on social network website

Link Here8th August 2013
Full story: Blasphemy in Turkey...Blasphemy repressing Turkish people

Prosecutors have charged Sedat Kapanoglu and 40 account holders with the blasphemy on the religious values of a society fraction due to their entries on Ekssiso zlu k, a popular social media website in Turkey.

Those charged face prison sentences from 6 up to 12 months.

Turkish blasphemy laws are framed with:

The purpose of protecting the sentiments of those who believe in God, religion, prophets, holy writings and sects. Individuals may certainly express their opinions and criticize certain aspects. However, they must do this while not hurting other people's religious sentiments. Therefore, nobody has the right to damage the respect of others towards their sacred concepts.



Update: Denigrating Free Speech...

Turkish pianist given a suspended jail sentence for tweets that supposedly denigrate islam

Link Here16th April 2013
Full story: Blasphemy in Turkey...Blasphemy repressing Turkish people

The conviction of a renowned Turkish pianist for denigrating Islam on Twitter sends a chilling message to social media users in the country, Amnesty International said.

Fazil Say, who has played in some of the world's leading orchestras, was given a 10-month suspended sentence for posting tweets mocking religious individuals and Islamic conceptions of heaven in April 2012.

Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International's expert on Turkey said:

The conviction of Fazil Say is a flagrant violation of his freedom of expression, made possible by one of Turkey's most draconian laws.

This case sends a chilling warning to anyone using Twitter or other social media in Turkey. Namely, that if you express an opinion the authorities don't like, you could be next.

An example re-tweet from the 9 cited in charges was:

I am not sure if you have noticed, but where there's a louse, a non-entity, a lowlife, a thief or a fool, they are all Islamists. Is this a paradox?

Update: Retrial

27th April 2013. See article from

A Turkish court has canceled the conviction of Fazil Say, ordering a retrial. The court ruled that Say, who was given a suspended sentence of 10 months in prison on April 15 by a lower court, was not fully informed of his rights regarding the verdict and there were procedural errors. The decision was taken in response to an appeal by Say's lawyer Meltem Akyol.

Update: Re-sentenced to 10 months jail, hopefully suspended

21st September 2013. See  article from

World-renowned Turkish pianist Fazil Say, who was sentenced to 10 months in prison for blasphemy in April, was again sentenced to 10 months by an Istanbul court in a retrial. Say had received a suspended 10-month prison sentence on charges of insulting religious beliefs held by a section of the society, for re-tweeting several lines, which are attributed to poet Omar Khayyam... Say was convicted after tweeting the following lines:

You say its rivers will flow in wine. Is the Garden of Eden a drinking house?

You say you will give two houris to each Muslim. Is the Garden of Eden a whorehouse?

Update: Acquitted

7th December 2016.

An Istanbul court acquitted pianist Fazil Say on 7 September 2016 of blasphemy charges after a four-year legal battle stemming from a 2012 post he re-tweeted consisting of lines written by 11th century Persian poet Omar Khayyam.

The pianist went to trial in October 2012 after three people filed a criminal complaint against him. Blasphemy charges carry a potential 18-month prison sentence, but Say was later handed a suspended ten-month sentence in 2013 since he had no previous criminal record and was ordered to be monitored.

In late 2015 Turkey's Supreme Court of Appeals overturned the sentence saying his social media posts should be regarded as freedom of expression and thought. The recent court decision upheld the appellate court's decision, thus ending the pianist's lengthy legal ordeal.



Update: Divine Intervention...

Turkish TV censor fines TV channel for airing an episode of the Simpsons featuring God and the Devil

Link Here15th December 2012
Full story: Blasphemy in Turkey...Blasphemy repressing Turkish people

Turkey's TV censor has fined a television channel for insulting religious values after it aired an episode of The Simpsons that shows the religious character God taking orders from the Devil.

Radio and television censor RTUK said it was fining private broadcaster CNBC-e 52,951-lira ( £ 18,600) over the episode featuring the devil asking God to make him a coffee.

Elected a decade ago with the strongest majority seen in years, prime minister Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted AK party have overseen a period of unprecedented prosperity in Turkey. But concerns are growing about authoritarianism and critics of the government say it is trying to impose Islamic values by stealth.



Update: Nutter Dischord...

Famed Turkish pianist on trial for a Twitter insult

Link Here19th October 2012
Full story: Blasphemy in Turkey...Blasphemy repressing Turkish people

World-famous Turkish pianist Fazil Say has appeared in court in Istanbul charged with inciting hatred and insulting the values of Muslims.

The indictment against him cites some of his tweets from April, including one where he says:

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 Islamist.

Dozens of the pianist's supporters gathered outside the courthouse with banners, one of which called on the ruling Islamist-based AK Party to leave the artists alone .Say has played with the New York Philharmonic, the Berlin Symphony Orchestra and others, and has served as a cultural ambassador for the EU.

Egemen Bagis, Turkey's minister in charge of relations with the EU, suggested the case against him should be dismissed, saying the court should regard his tweets as being within his right to babble ...BUT... Bagis also criticised the pianist for insulting people's faith and values .

Update: Court Report

23rd November  2012. See  article from

Fasil Say appeared in an Istanbul court on October 18 and was charged with hate speech and insulting religion for Twitter messages mocking the conduct and beliefs of Islamic fundamentalists.

In one tweet, he commented on a muezzin, who calls Muslims to prayer, for his hurried style. Apparently reflecting his distaste for the spread of fundamentalism in Turkey, Say tweeted a complaint about a call to prayer that lasted only 22 seconds, and added, Why such haste? Do you have a mistress or a glass of raki [Turkish liquor] waiting?

In another message, he quoted the classical Persian poet Omar Khayyam, who asked if heaven should be considered a tavern or whorehouse, since it is described in the Koran as a place where wine is served by virgins.

A third tweet by Say remarked, I am not sure if you have also realized it, but if there's a louse, a non-entity, a lowlife, a thief or a fool, it is always an Islamist.

The Turkish prosecutors in the case argued that Say's tweets threatened public order. Say's case was adjourned until next February.

About 100 people demonstrated against his indictment in front of the court in Istanbul, and members of the German Bundestag from across the political spectrum expressed their concern at the repressive attitude of the Erdogan regime. Many prominent Turkish personalities, including Egemen Bagis, Erdogan's cabinet minister for relations with the European Union, have also called for the case to be dismissed.



Updated: Turkey's No Paradise...

Noted pianist may be charged with mocking religion on Twitter

Link Here2nd June 2012
Full story: Blasphemy in Turkey...Blasphemy repressing Turkish people
A Turkish prosecutor has proposed charging an internationally known Turkish pianist and composer with insulting Islamic religious values in comments he made on Twitter.

An Istanbul court will decide whether to accept the proposed indictment against Fazil Say, who has played piano with the New York Philharmonic, Berliner Symphoniker, Israel Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, and Tokyo Symphony.

The prosecutor accuses the pianist of supposedly inciting hatred and public enmity, and insulting religious values. The charges result from some supposed mocking of Islamic beliefs about paradise.

Update: Set for trial

2nd June 2012. See article from

A Turkish court has now formally charged an internationally known pianist and composer with insulting Islamic religious values in comments he made on Twitter.

The court in Istanbul voted to approve an indictment against Fazil Say. He will now face charges of inciting hatred and public enmity, and insulting religious values.

Meltem Akyol, a lawyer for Say, said the pianist has denied the charges. The trial will be held on Oct. 18, she said.

Akyol said Say's supposedly insulting tweets and retweets on social media cannot be considered as public remarks because only people who follow him can see them.

In one tweet cited in the indictment, Say said:

What if there is raki (traditional anisette drink) in paradise but not in hell, while there is Chivas Regal (scotch) in hell and not in paradise? What will happen then? This is the most important question!!

Islam forbids alcohol and many Islamists might consider such remarks unacceptable. In one of the pianist's retweets, one excerpt questioned whether paradise was a brothel? according to the indictment.


2nd January

Update: Believe or Else!...

Turkey to prosecute man for denying that the universe was created by a god

A Turkish court has accepted an indictment filed against a man who allegedly insulted Islamic values online.

The lawsuit was filed against AMS. over his remarks allegedly insulting Islamic beliefs on Eksi Sozluk (Sour Times) , a website on which contributors share their comments on various issues and incidents in Turkey.

Prosecutor Altinok, who says the suspect went beyond the limits of freedom of speech by ridiculing Muslim prayer rituals and the Islamic belief that the universe was created by God, seeks up to one-and-a-half years in jail for AMS.

AMS said in his testimony that he did not intend to commit a crime nor to target a group or individual with his comments.


1st December

Update: Cartoon Wind Up...

Supposedly blasphemous cartoon becomes the focus of a diplomatic fracas at Euro-Turkey talks

A gathering of Turkish and European parliamentarians in Brussels turned eventful when a far-right Dutch deputy lambasted Islam and Turkey and then attempted to present a supposedly blasphemous cartoon as a 'gift' to a Turkish minister.

Barry Madlener, a Dutch politician from the Party for Freedom (PVV), first caused tensions when he said at a meeting of the European Union-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee that Turkey did not belong to Europe because it has a backward Islamic ideology that does not fit with European values. Islam and freedoms cannot coexist, Madlener said before accusing Turkey of restricting freedom of the press and Internet and criticizing increasing violence against women and homosexuals.

He said even caricaturists were being put on trial and walked towards Turkish State Minister Egemen Bağış, one of the panelists at the meeting, saying he wanted to present him an illustration by a Turkish cartoonist as a 'gift'.

The cartoon, published in Turkish humor magazine Penguen , landed cartoonist Bahadır Baruter in court, with a state prosecutor charging him in September with insulting religious values and demanding a one-year jail sentence. The cartoon proved controversial as the phrases there is no Allah and religion is a lie were hidden in the background.

When Madlener attempted to present a framed copy of the cartoon to Bağış, Turkish lawmaker Akif Demirkıran, who was chairing the meeting, received the cartoon as Bağış was heard shouting, Don't take it! Bağış, who is also Turkey's chief negotiator for EU talks, then told Madlener: I have enough cartoons at home. Put it in your appropriate place. The EU Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Füle attempted to calm down Bağış, who was visibly rattled.

Members of the European Union-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee protested Madlener by clapping


29th September

Update: Dangerous Words...

Turkish cartoonist on trial for a cartoon with hidden comment denying the existence of Allah

A Turkish cartoonist will be put on trial for a caricature he drew in which he renounced god, daily Haberturkreported .

The Istanbul chief public prosecutor's office charged cartoonist Bahadir Baruter with insulting the religious values adopted by a part of the population and requested his imprisonment for up to one year.

Baruter's caricature depicted an imam and believers praying in a mosque. One of the characters is talking to God on his cellphone and asking to be pardoned from the last part of the prayer because he has errands to run.

Within the circled wall decorations of the mosque, Baruter hid the words, There is no Allah, religion is a lie.

The cartoon was published in the weekly Penguen humor magazine.

Turkish Religous Affairs and Foundation Members' Union and some citizens filed complaints against Baruter.


27th June

Update: Peace Undisturbed...

Turkish author acquitted of blasphemy in his novel The Daughters of Islam

An Istanbul court has acquitted the Turkish novelist Nedim Gürsel of inciting religious hatred with the publication of his novel The Daughters of Islam .

The judgment cited errors in the original complaint, and concluded that there had been no criminal intent in the publication of the novel.

The decision brings to an end a process that has lasted for more than a year, after a private citizen accused the novel of denigrating religious values under article 216 of the Turkish penal code, a complaint supported in a rare intervention by the Turkish directorate of religious affairs.

Speaking by phone from his home in France the author said he was happy and even relieved to be acquitted of a charge which carries a maximum sentence of three years in jail.

He had been worried when the directorate intervened, he continued, particularly because the evidence they submitted reproduced the errors in the original complaint, confusing the phrase Allah's servants in the book with the phrase Allah's lovers, and citing a description of Allah's daughters lying completely naked that did not appear in the novel.

This means that the directorate wanted to condemn me without even having read the book, he said.

An appeal may be lodged against the decision within seven days, but Gürsel considered it unlikely that a higher court would reverse the decision, since a police report concluded that the publication of the book had not disturbed the peace, a vital part of any prosecution for blasphemy under article 216.

The author pronounced himself satisfied with the verdict, but sad that the trial had degraded the image of Turkey in the eyes of democratic countries. The offence of blasphemy shouldn't even exist in a secular republic, which is what Turkey considers itself to be.


28th May

Updated: Creating Mischief...

Creationist accuses Turkish author of religious hatred

The trial of a novelist accused of inciting religious hatred in his last novel The daughters of Allah opened and adjourned in Istanbul yesterday. Nedim Grsel, who lives in Paris and is being tried in absentia, faces between one and three years in jail if convicted.

The court heard testimony from the plaintiff Ali Emre Bukagili, a follower of Adnan Oktar who is known for his belief in creationism and rejection of the Darwinian theory of evolution. He said he was offended by the book because it was insulting to the Prophet and the Koran. Freedom of expression has limits.

The public prosecutor has recommended acquitting the author on the grounds that an imminent and clear public order danger as required by the law has not been established. The novel was published in 2008. The case was adjourned to May 26.

Update: Adjourned Again

28th May 2009, See article from

A Turkish author on trial after being charged with inciting religious hatred in a novel based on the birth of Islam said that his book was fiction, but the result of extensive research and consultation with religious leaders, and therefore could not be called blasphemous.

An Istanbul court on Tuesday adjourned the trial of the author, Nedim Gursel, until June 25.


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