Turkey’s top court details ruling on pianist Say, says ‘freedom is essential’
Mesut Hasan Benli - ANKARA
Turkish pianist Fazıl Say (C) is awarded the International Prize for Secularism (Grand Prix International de la Laicite) by Paris' Mayor Anne Hidalgo (L), president of the CLR (Comite laicite republique) Patrick Kessel (R), on October 26, 2015, in Paris. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSONTurkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals has completed a detailed ruling in its earlier reversal decision of a 10-month jail sentence handed down to world-renowned Turkish pianist and composer Fazıl Say on blasphemy charges, highlighting the need for “a tolerant and wide view for the sake of a free society.”
“Freedom is essential and constraint is exceptional,” the Supreme Court of Appeals said in its ruling. “In the current century, in our country which we believe is modern, in our extant judicial system in which we trust under all circumstances, there is need to have a more tolerant and wider view in the name of being a free society that is composed of free individuals,” the court said.
Say had received a suspended 10-month prison sentence in April 2013 on charges of “insulting religious beliefs held by a section of society” for retweeting several lines attributed to 11th-century Persian poet Omar Khayyam.
In October, the 8th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals ruled by a majority vote that Say’s Twitter posts which had led to his sentence should be regarded as freedom of thought and expression and thus should not be punished.
In its detailed ruling completed earlier this week, the court maintained that Say didn’t aim to “insult religious values embraced by a part of the people.”
While retweeting, Say didn’t “call for or advise violence,” the court said, underlining that Say used his “freedom of expression in a legal framework.”
Among the lines attributed to Khayyam which Say retweeted was: “You say its rivers will flow in wine. Is the Garden of Eden a drinking house?”