Fazil Say has spent a great deal of time composing and performing in Europe and the United States. But lately he has been living in his native Turkey.
The government is led by conservative Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has been in power since 2002. Since that time the government has imprisoned a number of artists, academics, politicians and dissidents. The courts have become a political battleground between theocrats and secularists. Say himself rankled the devout with the following tweet: ”You say rivers of wine flow in heaven: is heaven a tavern to you?/ You say two houris await each believer there: is heaven a brothel to you?” Its lines are taken from a thousand-year old poem that criticizes the devout.
Say rejects the charges, proclaiming his right to freely express himself in a secular country.
“Many intellectual friends, journalists are behind bars for reasons we can’t know or understand,” said Say in an address delivered at a performance on the eve of this Thursday’s hearing.
“I can’t even begin to explain this era. Believe me this reminds me of Nazi Germany the most,” said Say. ”It is perhaps an honour to be tried because of retweeting a verse of Khayyam in an era like this… I have committed no crime… We are modern individuals, not a flock.”
Say added, “If this is a dark era, then let us enlighten it.”
Make no mistake that this is not simply an Islamic problem. Fundamentalists here in America are just as incapable of tolerating criticism of their faith. We may not go on trial for tweets such as Say’s, but evangelical Christians are working day and night to refashion the secular America into a theocratic state.
[AFP: Fred Dufour]