A Modern Day Symphony

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Turkey, with its 37 million of users, is among the first 20 countries which have the highest number of internet users. It is an important step for the country as this number was only 2 million at the beginning of the decade. One of the biggest reasons of this growth is the young generation. Several researches show that the majority of the users are below the age of 35. These researches also indicate how the usage of internet is perceived among the users. According to surveys, internet users, especially young ones, have a tendency to take part in the social networking sites. Thus, no one is surprised to see Turkey in the list of Countries with the highest number of users in social networking sites. Websites such as Facebook and Twitter are the most popular ones as nearly 30 million Turkish users already joined these sites to socialize with their friends. However, it is a clear fact that these websites are no longer only used for entertainment purposes. They started to provide an important space where all kinds of thoughts from different minds and perspectives can be expressed and discussed freely. On the other hand this freedom causes a dilemma in Turkey where freedom of speech and expression is a constant issue. The recent news about a famous musician and composer lead some serious discussions in Turkey if internet users are free enough to spread their thoughts through social networking sites.
 
Fazil SAY who is a worldwide famous classical musician from Turkey, is one of the celebrities using networking sites effectively. Not only giving details from his upcoming albums and concerts, SAY also communicates with his followers and discusses on several subjects, mostly about Turkey. SAY who is also an important intellectual, does not feel reluctant to talk on politics and never hesitates to make declarations against the conservative movements rapidly growing in Turkey. Thus, there is a big attention on SAY’s twitter page as he has been stating, tweeting, his thoughts in an explicit way. As an important artist, SAY knew how to draw attention on him by using the power of music. However, he was unaware that internet has the same effects as music when it comes to attract people and some radicals too.
 
SAY’s tweet about a daily scene of a professional Muslim prayer’s way of pray was first criticized by some of his followers. Later, SAY shared a quote, re-tweeted according to twitter jargon, from one his followers who referred to a Omar KHAYYAM’s poem. As A Persian intellectual Omar KHAYYAM is known as one of the most important figures of Islamic Culture, some of his works are not considered sympathetic enough for having sarcastic approach to the religion. Following SAY’s re-tweet, his account turned to a battlefield where people from different views argued. Finally, Fazil SAY ended these severe discussions by explaining that the quote owned to Omar KHAYYAM and he shared it with his followers just because he liked its humor. However, things did not end that easily. SAY’s naïve explanation did not satisfy some minds and his related tweets were complained to Public Prosecutor Office for an examination. SAY was so confident that his re-tweets did not contain any offence against public as millions of people do it on social networking platforms on a routine basis. In his interview, SAY explained that he only re-tweeted a famous poet’s quote and all other tweets in subject were published by his followers. SAY did not find it reasonable to be charged with accusations when he individually did not publish the tweets. However, authorities did not have an optimistic view as this famous artist had and he was charged with a very serious and morally disturbing offence, Art. 216 of the Turkish Criminal Code “Provoking the Public to Hatred, Hostility” .SAY who has been representing a nation in the international music scene for 30 years, was requested to be sentenced from 9 months to 1,5 years of jail. SAY, who has been trying to attract a non enthusiastic nation for classical music by composing multicultural compositions, was harshly accused of degrading the values of the society.
 
In Turkey, the relation between the State and Intellectuals is always complicated. This love hate relation lead so many important people to experience state oriented Turkish legal system. Fazil SAY’s court hearing will be on 18th of October and it could be his last performance before audience in a not likely concert place, a courtroom. SAY stated that he seriously started to think about moving to another country. Time always changes but it seems that genius classical music artists’ tragic destiny never changes.    

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