English PEN, which works to defend freedom of expression in literature and beyond, is throwing its weight behind the cause of Turkish pianist and composer Fazil Say, who is due back in court on Monday for comments posted on Twitter. His crime? Saying that he's an atheist and proud of it. And now six of PEN's colleagues in Turkey are under investigation for "insulting the state", having voiced their concerns about his ongoing prosecution.
Fazıl Say, an outspoken critic of Prime Minister Erdoğan, 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.
Say first appeared in court in Istanbul on 18 October 2012, where his lawyers demanded his immediate acquittal. The acquittal call was rejected and the case adjourned until 18 February 2013. He faces up to 18 months in prison if found guilty.Please visit the English PEN site for information on how to join their Thunderclap project to support Fazil Say. If they reach the target of 100 supporters by Monday, a simultaneous message is activated and sent simultaneously from the participants' social media accounts. The page also provides addresses to which letters of protest should be sent. http://www.englishpen.org/turkey-english-pen-protests-charges-against-fazil-say/