The Guardian has reported this week, in its online version, on the conviction of Turkish pianist and composer Fazil Say for blasphemy on Twitter. The ‘crime’ involved posts allegedly denigrating Islam. In some posts he was repeating poetry penned by Omar Khayyám.
Say is not the only artist to suffer at the hands of Islam in Turkey and, as the Guardian piece points out, the country’s current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was imprisoned in 1998 for ‘inciting religious hatred’.
Turkey is, unusually, an Islamic country with a secular constitution. Inevitably, this creates tension as the religious fundamentalists, who happen to be Islamic in this case, have a clear, burning need to turn the country into a theocracy. This is the agenda of fundies across the world, so it would be a mistake to see this as simply a problem unique to Islam. Religion, more accurately, organised religion, sees itself as the moral arbiter within, and indeed, outside the borders of the particular state in question.
There has been a campaign over recent years at United Nations level to introduce a worldwide ‘protection’ against the denigration of religion generally. This has been promulgated by various Islamic states but it reflects a cross-religious view that it is somehow wrong, ‘disrespectful’ even, to be critical of religion. Amongst various tactics used in this process is the promotion of the idea that to castigate Islam, for example, is somehow ‘Islamaphobic’. Islamaphobia is an invention with no real substance. It is an attempt to accord an ‘idea’, Islam, the benefit accorded to individuals who are subjected to hatred and intolerance.
It is people who need protection in hate-filled circumstances, not ideas. The right to criticise, denigrate, ridicule or disrespect an idea, including a religious one, is fundamental to the concept of freedom of speech and freedom of thought. Ironically, it is those who shout the loudest about disrespect to religion that support, tolerate or participate in heinous acts of hatred. It isn’t atheists and free-thinkers, generally, who fly planes into skyscrapers, bomb marathons, murder doctors who carry out abortions or demand the beheading of infidels.
A state that is willing to allow individuals to be prosecuted for being disrespectful to ideas, religious or otherwise, is not one that should be allowed at the European table.
I watch Turkey with some concern in relation to their humanitarian and foreign policy intentions. They appear to offer a ‘nod’ to Serbia and Montenegro, however, they mainly support cultural projects and works toward the goal of reconnecting with the countries with whom it shares
a common, cultural, and historic heritage. Turkey appears to be careful in avoiding an image where its aid policy targets only the countries in the shared civilisational geography – although, in reality this is where their priorities remain. The Turkish feet are planted firmly in the Middle East, yet they have no qualms in attempting to benefit from membership of the EU. Culturally they are alien to the moral views and laws of the west and in my opinion have (as a nation) no place regarding any say in Brussels.
Simply want to say your article is as astounding.
The clearness in your post is simply spectacular and
i can assume you are an expert on this subject.
Fine with your permission allow me to grab your RSS feed to keep up to date
with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please
keep up the gratifying work.
Howdy! Do you know if they make any plugins to protect against hackers?
I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked hard on. Any suggestions?
Good article. I will be experiencing a few of these issues
you are in point of fact a just right webmaster. The site loading velocity is incredible.
It sort of feels that you are doing any unique trick.
Also, The contents are masterwork. you have performed a wonderful job in this matter!
Hello friends, its enormous post regarding cultureand fully explained,
keep it up all the time.
We absolutely love your blog and find a lot of
your post’s to be just what I’m looking for.
Does one offer guest writers to write content for yourself?
I wouldn’t mind writing a post or elaborating on a few of the subjects you write about here.
Again, awesome website!
Sadly, no guesting but feel free to comment to your hearts content!