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'There are many such cases in Turkey': Fazil Say trial not anomaly

Published time: April 15, 2013 17:37

Turkish pianist Fazil Say. (AFP Photo / Bernd Thissen)

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Turkish pianist Fazil Say being slapped with a suspended 10-month jail term for a controversial tweet is an example of a “clear trend of abusive prosecutions” in Turkey, Amnesty International researcher Andrew Gardner told RT.

“Anyone really speaking out on one of these controversial subjects risks prosecution from the authorities, if the view they are expressing does not fit with the view the authorities have on this controversial subject. It’s not so much an issue of secularism or religious values,” Gardner said.

RT: We know it's a suspended sentence and looks more like a warning than a punishment. Is this trial making an example out of Say? Perhaps, of political correctness.

Andrew Gardner: The conviction of Fazil Say today is one example of a clear trend of abusive prosecutions being brought against journalists, writers and others speaking out on controversial subjects. It is a clear violation of the right of freedom of press, there are many such cases in Turkey. That is why we call the law such as this one to be scrapped from Turkey’s statute.

RT: How does this fit in with Turkey’s secularism?

AG: It fits in very well with the pattern, which is one where controversial subjects which are tackled by well-known personalities such as Fazil Say, writers, journalists and others – anyone really speaking out on one of these controversial subjects risks prosecution from the authorities if the view they are expressing does not fit with the view the authorities have on this controversial subject. It’s not so much an issue of secularism or religious values. It could have been a whole range of subjects, like outspoken criticism on the Kurdish issue, criticism on the status of Armenian citizens.

RT: The musician has many times been critical of the country's prime minister, is this case personal?

AG: The prosecution is not brought on by one individual. It is a state prosecution, as such the state takes the responsibility for it. It is true the criticism of the prime minister has been the subject of criminal prosecutions under Turkey’s anti-defamation laws, and this is another serious problem. In this instance it’s really the Turkish state taking Fazil Say to court, finding him guilty. And it is the state’s responsibility to provide a remedy for this violation.

RT: Muslims make up the majority of Turkey's society, do you think Say was provocative when sending the tweets?

AG: It is a provocative statement, and there are many people who will be offended by what he said and do not agree with it. But the right of freedom of expression does not only include those ideas that are popular or uncontroversial. It protects those comments which are controversial and even offensive as well. And this is a clear case of one of those comments. People shouldn’t be prosecuted. And people should be able to take a different approach, certainly, and to disagree with it, and to state that fact. That is not the state of issue that should be taken to court and be convicted.

Comments (13)


Baturay Daylak 20.04.2013 08:05

LOL, Jim. I think you have a problem of some sort in your logic. If "everything&quo t; about Turkey is a lie, why Fazil Say and many other secular people care to speak against the current government and its acts? Why there are people protesting this ruling about Say's case? Are they a part of the lie also?

I wonder how did you make a connection between this issue and NATO. Republic of Turkey was founded to be a secular nation. However, it can be said it is not 100% secular. Sadly, secular foundations have been subject to degradation in the last decade, thanks to the conservative government and politicians.


Başak Cömert 19.04.2013 02:19

to Jim Dandy from basak
Being a NATO member is not Turkey's fault, the only fault is being poor, lack of money. yes it has its unique culture and own values which is nice.
NO, Turkey is absolute secular country, even though I am not a muslim women I live freely and happily in Turkey.
and Yes there is a freedom of speech problem in Turkey like in many other developing countries. However it is not necessary to insult the whole nation because of their temporary governors. Next time it is better to address our president's name or government to criticize therefore he can work to change something.


Jim Dandy 17.04.2013 19:21

This case just proves that just about everything about Turkey is a lie and the NATO blood money thrown at Turkey amounts to nothing more than a bribe.
-As a NATO member, Turkey doesn't share Western values.
-Turkey is NOT secular but in fact like the Saudis an Islamic state bent on imposing their variation of Sharia.
-If Turkey can't even respect 'tweet' comments of its own citizens, how will Turkey respect the rights of its neighbors?

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