Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

15 April 2013

Conviction of Turkish pianist sends 'chilling' warning to Twitter users

Conviction of Turkish pianist sends 'chilling' warning to Twitter users
Pianist Fazil Say faces jail if he is found guilty of the same offence within the next five years

Pianist Fazil Say faces jail if he is found guilty of the same offence within the next five years

© Fazil Say


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.
Source: 
Amnesty International's Andrew Gardner

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 today.

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

"The conviction of Fazil Say is a flagrant violation of his freedom of expression, made possible by one of Turkey's most draconian laws," said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s expert on Turkey.

"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."

Charges against Say cited nine tweets on his account, including a re-tweet saying: "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?"

A package of reforms passed on 12 April by Turkey's Parliament – called the 'fourth judicial package' – failed to overhaul the county’s outdated and restrictive laws curtailing freedom of expression.

Say, who has played with the New York Philharmonic, the Berlin Symphony Orchestra and others, said he was "saddened" by the verdict.

"I am very disappointed for freedom of expression. The fact that I have been convicted despite not having committed a crime is more worrying for the right to freedom of expression and belief in Turkey than it is for me personally," the pianist reportedly told Turkish media today.

By the terms of Say's sentence, he faces jail is he is found guilty of the same offence within the next five years.

"This conviction exposes the unjust Turkish laws that leave people vulnerable to a range of abuses - including jail - just for expressing an opinion," said Gardner.

“In failing to make the required reforms in the fourth judicial package, the government missed a great opportunity to bring Turkey’s laws in line with international human rights standards.

“The government must look again at its reform agenda and immediately abolish offences such as the one used to prosecute Fazil Say.”

Read More

Turkey: Time to remove the shackles on freedom (Report, 27 March 2013)

Issue

Freedom Of Expression 

Country

Turkey 

Region

Europe And Central Asia 

Follow #turkey @amnestyonline on twitter

News

21 August 2014

Children accused of being members of armed groups in the conflict in Mali are languishing in adult jails while human rights abuses continue.

Read more »
15 August 2014

The number of killings perpetrated by the police is on the rise again in the Dominican Republic whilst legislation intended to fix the problem stalls and stagnates in Congress... Read more »

29 August 2014

The execution of two men in Japan on Friday flies in the face of growing calls in the country to halt the use of capital punishment, said Amnesty International.

Read more »
29 August 2014

Russia’s official branding of a civil society organization as a “foreign agent”, an expression akin to “spying”, for speaking out on Ukraine is a sign of the country’s... Read more »

31 August 2014

Egypt is tightening its chokehold on civil society as the country’s independent NGOs face the risk of being shut down if they fail to comply with a compulsory requirement to... Read more »