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English Pen FEBRUARY 17, 2013 - by Cat Lucas

UK ARTISTS SHOW SUPPORT FOR TURKISH MUSICIAN AND WRITER FAZIL SAY

Leading UK musicians, composers and writers, including Brian Eno, Thomas Adès and Ian McEwan join English PEN to call for charges against fellow artist Fazıl Say to be dropped.

On Monday, February 18, celebrated Turkish pianist, composer and writer Fazıl Say will appear in court for the second time in relation to comments posted on Twitter.

Say has been charged with religious defamation under Article 216/3 of the Turkish Penal Code in response to a series of messages posted on Twitter, including one which simply states: "I am an atheist and I am proud to be able to say this so comfortably." He has also been charged under Article 218 of the Turkish Penal Code, which increases sentences by half for offences committed "via press or broadcast". Say denies the charges.

Ahead of Monday's hearing, leading UK musicians, composers and writers have joined English PEN in sending an open letter to Turkey's Minister of Justice Sadullah Ergin calling for the charges against Say to be dropped.

The letter, signed by Brian Eno, Thomas Adès, David Hare, Alan Ayckbourn, Ahdaf Soueif, Ian McEwan, Roland Gift and English PEN President Gillian Slovo, amongst other leading artists, states:

"The charges are in violation of Say's right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Turkey is a signatory. Even those who are usually critical of Say have voiced concerns over this case, which they believe could be damaging to Turkey's international reputation."

The artists go on to highlight Fazıl Say's grave concerns about "the negative impact a prison sentence would have on his career as the country's leading classical composer and an internationally renowned pianist" and that he has suggested that he would consider emigrating "as a result of the 'growing culture of intolerance' in Turkey".

The letter concludes, "As fellow composers, musicians and writers who cherish both creative freedom and the right to free expression we strongly urge you to drop all charges against Fazıl Say immediately and unconditionally."


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