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Fazil Say faces trial over Tweets         

10 September 2012

Turkish pianist and composer Fazil Say, 42, has been charged with insulting Islamic religious values in comments he made on Twitter. The pianist denies the charges and faces trial on 18 October.

The case has captured the attention of pianists worldwide, including fellow Turk AyseDeniz Gokcin, who played Say’s piece Alla Turca Jazz on 50 different street pianos in London during July to show her support of the artist. The pianos were presented by the City of London Festival as part of the ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ project created by British artist Luke Jerram, that has been touring internationally since 2008.

Gokcin says that the project ‘represents my wishes for a more democratic and tolerant Turkey in which artists, writers and intellectuals can think and speak freely.

‘Music represents freedom. It is everywhere just like the air we breathe, and as long as the universe exists, it cannot be destroyed, nor can its freedom be taken away... Because the power of the notes is stronger than anything you can ever imagine. I wish artists, authors and thinkers in Turkey, my home country, could also be as free.’ The video can be viewed here.

Say, who has frequently criticised the pro-Islamic Justice and Development Party government over its cultural and social policies, publicly defines himself as an atheist – a controversial admission in Turkey, which is overwhelmingly Muslim. He could face a maximum one and a half years in prison if he is convicted.

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