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Blasphemy in Turkey — And the Fazil Say Affair

Mustafa Akyol argues that Fazil Say should not be convicted either of blasphemy or hate speech, although Say is guilty of insulting and denigrating pious Muslims.
A photo taken on February 9, 2010 shows Turkish pianist and composer Fazil Say posing at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris. Fazil Say,charged with attacks on religious values for a series of provocative tweets about Islam, will go on trial from October 17, 2012.  Under Turkish law, anyone convicted of insulting religious values can be sentenced to between three months and one year in prison.   AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOUR        (Photo credit should read FRED DUFOUR/AFP/GettyImages)

Global news agencies reported last week [April 15] that Turkish courts punished an artist for the crime of blasphemy. World-renowned Turkist pianist Fazil Say, 44, was given an 18-month prison sentence, which was automatically suspended, for statements made on Twitter. A headline in The Guardian gave a typical interpretation: “Turkish composer and pianist convicted of blasphemy on Twitter.”

But was Fazil Say really convicted of blasphemy?

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