The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music news: Let’s support the atheist Turkish pianist Fazil Say in his fight against the religious intolerance of Islam. Leave a comment of protest and support.

June 30, 2012
10 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Offhand, I can’t think of many Turkish pianists who have stood out in their interpretations of Western classical music.

But the young keyboard wizard Fazil Say (below), 42, is one of the exceptions.

Maybe the only one.

Say, who is also a composer and who plays and performs jazz, has the impressive technique — the chops if you will — plus the interpretive ability and artistic affinity to leave you deeply impressed with his reading of, say, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Ravel among others.

Just look at all the 5-star User Ratings his CDs get on Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dclassical&field-keywords=Fazil+Say

Here is a link to his official fan website:

http://www.fazilsay.org/

But now it looks as if Say, who admits to being secular and to supporting a secular government in his native Turkey, will have to take up a home in exile (probably in Japan, he says) because he has been charged with the equivalent of heresy or blasphemy by Turkey’s government and threatened with arrest, trial and prison. (Below is the famed Blue Mosque in Turkey.)

Specifically, he is accuse of, and investigated for, insulting Islam, and other religions, because he Tweeted that he is an atheist. He was indicted and a trial is set for Oct. 18.

It all sounds very similar to what happened to the Nobel Prize-winning Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk (below) who was charging with libeling or insulting the Turkish government because he referred to the Armenian genocide by Turkey in 1915 — which Turkey officially denies ever took place, despite the testimony and evidence provided by many experts and historians.

After worldwide protest, Turkey dropped those charges,

Maybe the same outcome could happen for Fazil Say (below and at bottom, playing ironically Mozart’s “Turkish” Rondo).

Here are links to stories and other blogs about Say’s unfortunate predicament:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/02/world/europe/turkey-charges-pianist-fazil-say-over-twitter-posts.html

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tomchiversscience/100152667/fazil-say-and-turkeys-war-on-atheism/

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/06/01/turkish-pianist-charged-with-insulting-islam/

http://www.nationalturk.com/en/turkish-pianist-fazil-says-twitter-messages-to-be-investigated-in-turkey-17534

http://www.todayszaman.com/news-282207-turkish-pianist-charged-with-insulting-religious-values.html

No matter what the right-wing here says about the need for more state-sponsored religion, now you can see why the Founders wisely wanted in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to establish a wall of separation between church and state. In their own lifetimes, they had seen what the mix of religion and government or politics did in Europe and elsewhere.

So: Looks like it’s time to speak up for free speech, artistic freedom and freedom of religious in Turkey.

What do you say about Say and his plight?

Leave a note of protest and support in the COMMENTS section. Maybe it will persuade Turkish authorities to relent – although I wouldn’t count on it.

Shame on Turkey!

Shame on Islam, Christianity, Judaism and all other forms of religious intolerance and oppression!

Shame on religious zealots of all kinds in all places and at all times!


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