INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
English Pen FEBRUARY 17, 2013 - by Cat Lucas
OPEN LETTER TO TURKEY'S MINISTER OF JUSTICE SADULLAH ERGIN
Mr Sadullah Ergin
Minister of Justice
February 17, 2013
We are joining with English PEN to protest the charges against our fellow composer, musician and writer Fazıl Say.
On February 18, 2013, celebrated pianist, composer and writer Fazıl Say will appear in court for the second time for comments posted on the social networking service 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.
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.
Say first appeared in court in Istanbul on October 18, 2012, where his lawyers demanded his immediate acquittal. The acquittal call was rejected and the case adjourned until February 18, 2013. He faces up to eighteen months in prison if found guilty.
Fazıl Say is gravely concerned about the negative impact a prison sentence would have on his career as the country's leading classical composer and an internationally renowned pianist. Furthermore, he has suggested that he would consider moving abroad as a result of the 'growing culture of intolerance' in Turkey.
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.
Thomas Adès, Alan Ayckbourn, William Boyd, Brian Eno, Moris Farhi, Michael Frayn, Maureen Freely, Roland Gift, David Hare, Charles Hazlewood, Eva Hoffman, Hanif Kureishi, Ian McEwan, Kamila Shamsie, Gillian Slovo, Ahdaf Soueif, Salil Tripathi