18 October, 2012

Just get away

The concert pianist Fazil Say has been indicted by a court in Istanbul for insulting the values of Muslims.

Mr. Say had reportedly put on his twitter account: 'I am not sure if you have also realised it, but if there's a louse, a non-entity, a lowlife, a thief or a fool, it's always an Islamist.'

It was foolish. Turkey is struggling with its identity, as it was in 1923 when Ataturk took over, as between an Islamic state and a modern western power. Prime Minister Erdogan appears to be struggling to establish a position and must occasionally turn a blind eye to the sort of religious intolerance we in Britain saw in the 17th century.

There has been a small demonstration in Istanbul with one banner saying 'leave the artists alone'. I don't agree: artists, and Roman Polanski, the paedophile rapist, springs to mind, must undergo the same strictures of the law as anyone else.

The answer for Mr. Say is to come to Western Europe, where his talents will be recognised and where he can say more or less what he likes. Actually, not Britain, where several people have been arrested for putting on Facebook things which others found insulting. Britain is no longer a country of free speech.

Italy, perhaps, or Denmark. A pianist of his quality would be welcome.

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