x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Top Turkish pianist on trial for insulting Islam on Twitter

The trial of Fazil Say, who has played with the New York Philharmonic, Berlin Symphony Orchestra and others, starts today.

ISTANBUL // A top Turkish pianist and composer is going on trial in Istanbul on charges of offending Muslims and insulting Islam in comments he made on Twitter.

The trial of Fazil Say, who has played with the New York Philharmonic, Berlin Symphony Orchestra and others, starts today. His tweets included one that joked about a call to prayer that lasted only 22 seconds.

Mr Say tweeted: "Why such haste? Have you got a mistress waiting or a raki [a Turkish alcoholic drink] on the table?"

Islam forbids alcohol and many Islamist consider the remarks unacceptable.

Prosecutors have charged him with inciting religious hatred and insulting Islamic values. He faces a maximum 18 months prison term, although any sentence is likely to be suspended.

Mr Say, a critic of Turkey's government, has denied insulting Islam.