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Rob.

Blasphemy laws in Turkey

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I don't apologise for starting a new thread for this by the way, and I know the IOC has been to worse places than Turkey, but I personally don't think this chimes well with the whole "Bridge Together" mantra. Turkey can choose to be a modern secular democracy, or it can prosecute people for criticising fairy-tales. It really can't do both!

Court sentences top pianist accused of tweets that insulted Islam

An Istanbul court slapped a world-renowned musician Monday with a 10-month suspended sentence for posting a series of tweets that poked fun at Islamic descriptions of heaven.

Classical concert pianist Fazil Say, 43, was found guilty of "openly insulting the religious values held by a portion of the public" for the tweets, which were posted last year.

"Although I am innocent and have not committed any crime, this decision I received is more worrisome for the freedom of expression and belief in Turkey than it is to me as a person," Say wrote in a statement posted on his Facebook page. The sentence marks a "very sad day for freedom of expression in Turkey," Say's lawyer Meltem Akyol told CNN. "We were expecting an acquittal."

"Freedom of expression does not entitle you to condescend or offend or insult people," countered plaintiff Ali Emre Bukagili. "That's a crime."

Say's tweets included: "You say the rivers will flow with wine, is heaven a tavern? You say each believer will receive two women, is heaven a brothel?" according to the indictment.

In another, Say joked about the short duration of a cleric's traditional Islamic call to prayer. The tweet asked a rhetorical question to the chanting cleric: "What's the hurry? Lover waiting?" the indictment said.

Say also was convicted of retweeting allegedly offensive posts, such as, "I am not sure if you have realized it, but where there is scum, a lowlife, a thief or a fool, s/he is always an Allahist. Is this a paradox?"

Faruk Logoglu, deputy international affairs chairman of the nation's main opposition party, CHP, called the sentence a "new link in the long chain of assaults on the freedom of expression and freedom of conscience in Turkey."

"This is shameful for Turkish democracy," he said.

Say won't have to serve his sentence as long as he doesn't commit a similar crime within the next five years. "The decision is a correct one," said Bukagili. "In our laws, it is against the law to publicly insult a belief, and he did that."

The case was filed last June after three plaintiffs lodged formal complaints.

Say has been a vocal critic of the Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party, which has governed Turkey since it first won parliamentary elections more than a decade ago. Critics linked the case to a recent string of freedom of expression prosecutions in Turkey.

Last year, Say commented on the case for CNN Turk. "... if I thought I was guilty, I would feel uncomfortable with myself and would enter the jail on my own," he said. "It is difficult for them to send me to jail. It is that simple."

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/04/15/world/europe/turkey-pianist-twitter-sentence/index.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fcnn_latest+(RSS%3A+Most+Recent)

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You don't actually think the IOC cares about this stuff, do you.

There are NEWER and YOUNGER members of the IOC. The old guard used NOT to care for the environment. They now do. So why not other areas??

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There are NEWER and YOUNGER members of the IOC. The old guard used NOT to care for the environment. They now do. So why not other areas??

Here's what the IOC members (young and old) care about: Making themselves look good.

Here's what the IOC members don't care about: Everything else.

The IOC members don't care about the environment. They care about making themselves look good by appearing to care about the environment. If they cared about the environment, they would encourage reused and recyclable venues. Instead, they punish cities for those and reward cities willing to spend $billions builiding new, often unneeded grand venues. They may sprinkie a few green initiatives to get some lame certification, but their whole vision in inherantly ungreen.

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You don't actually think the IOC cares about this stuff, do you.

No, of course not. Some members might, most probably won't.

I just can't seriously the idea of Istanbul promoting itself as modern, forward-looking city when people are criminalised for poking fun at a centuries old work of fiction.

I mean, there are enough problems in the world without making up crimes out of thin air, which is basically what blasphemy laws are.

#bridgetogether

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I agree blasphemy laws are pretty ridiculous, but are hardly surprising given the context, and say more about the ruling AK Party than Turkey itself.

Make no mistake, as a supporter of Istanbul 2020, I'm not going to ignore the fact that Turkey still has a LONG way to go to be at an appropriate status of anything like EU membership, given its plateaued track record in areas like human rights. I'd even go as far as saying some neighbouring states which have EU membership, or candidacy status, are just as bad or maybe just better at sweeping things under the carpet.

As for Istanbul's Olympic bid, I think its a grey area and Pandora's box to be considering an individual country's laws into the field of judgement. What matters is that overall, they are capable of delivering a safe, secure Olympics, which all people are welcomed - however this does work both ways. Within reason, you respect local laws, no matter how ridiculous we think they are. In the context of Europe, Turkey has a long way to go, but compared to countries like China, India and Russia (hello, 2014!) its childs play.

I take the position that an event like the Olympics can help a relatively stable and progressive state like Turkey to progress further down this path and change for the better. This is why as a non-Turk I support its Olympic ambitions. I think Turkey is an important role model for the region further East, and the Olympics themselves offer a fantastic opportunity to bring this into the spotlight. I'd even say discussions like this, where Turkey's blasphemy laws appear out of step with other parts of its society, are good things to happen, and are a direct result of the Olympic bid itself.

Edited by runningrings

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No, of course not. Some members might, most probably won't.

I just can't seriously the idea of Istanbul promoting itself as modern, forward-looking city when people are criminalised for poking fun at a centuries old work of fiction.

I mean, there are enough problems in the world without making up crimes out of thin air, which is basically what blasphemy laws are.

#bridgetogether

It is also worth noting that this incident has created substantial dialogue on the issue in Turkey, so its not like its some minor passing issue that is reflective of something constant, widespread and routine. Furthermore, free speech or not, the comments were a little childish and provocative.

As an Atheist myself, I don't think we should be going around pointing the finger at religions and explicitly calling them fiction. Ultimately Turkey is a majority Islamic state, and many people do not see their religion as a "work of fiction" (not to nitpick, but Islam is older than "a few centuries", more like approx 1400). Islam is also a fascinating religion from the standpoint of science - it preserved much of the world's knowledge while Europe went through its primitive dark ages. This enlightenment is reflected in the Ottoman Empire, which Istanbul is the physical legacy of.

Istanbul is as progressive and modern as any other European city east of the Danube is, especially given that it is heavily influenced by Islam, which is itself quite conservative. Given its context, it is a remarkable, and unique city unlike anywhere else in the world or even within Turkey itself, which is more conservative the further East you venture.

Edited by runningrings

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You can say whatever you think about this issue, but everybody should be respectful to any religion and above all to the local law. As an atheist, it doesn't mean I will offend the faith of others, above all when we all know that Islam is followed ad pedem litterae by any muslim, even for those who are secular or non-religious they are taught since early childhood to respect Islam, Christianity or Judaism or any other religion. What Turkey must watch are human rights within the country if they want to host the Olympics.

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As an atheist, it doesn't mean I will offend the faith of others, above all when we all know that Islam is followed ad pedem litterae by any muslim, even for those who are secular or non-religious they are taught since early childhood to respect Islam, Christianity or Judaism or any other religion.

That's fine within their BORDERS. But they should NOT expect the non-muslim countries to follow their lead. Why should they? If there is freedom of thought and expression in other lands, then the muslims have to respect that too, regardless of whether their beliefs are insulted or made fun of. Is their "cult" so weak that it cannot withstand criticism and dissent from others? Then it must be so. That is what the muslim mindset must understand -- they do NOT own the planet.

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That's fine within their BORDERS. But they should NOT expect the non-muslim countries to follow their lead. Why should they? If there is freedom of thought and expression in other lands, then the muslims have to respect that too, regardless of whether their beliefs are insulted or made fun of. Is their "cult" so weak that it cannot withstand criticism and dissent from others? Then it must be so. That is what the muslim mindset must understand -- they do NOT own the planet.

This is completely irrelevant to this discussion, unless you think that the Turkish Government is attempting to coerce you into following Islam? Also - you seem to be painting the entire Muslim community with one broad brush. Don't confuse fundamentalism with the broader community. I don't assume all Americans are batshit crazy because some loud minorities within its community preach Christian supremacy, gun rights and go on shooting rampages on an almost monthly basis. Meanwhile the rest of the world looks on with confusion at the continuous enshrining of crazy logic.

BACK on topic....

This is not too dissimilar (but certainly not as drastic) as Russia's relationship with the Orthodox church. Remember, last year Russia sent a musical group to LABOUR CAMP for performing a song in a church that questioned Christ. This is the same country that is hosting next years Olympics.

This is a drop on the pond. Istanbul is far more moderate with its respective religion (Islam) than Russia is with its predominant religion or parts of the US are towards Christianity. Perspective, please.

Edited by runningrings

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Of course NOT! It is TOTALLY relevant to the topic. Y r u so defensive about those muslims? They sow nothing but death and destruction on this planet. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, smells like a duck -- then it MUST be a terrorist!!

I repeat, unless the Turkish Government is trying to convert you to Islam, your comments are completely irrelevant.

Edited by runningrings
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You can say whatever you think about this issue, but everybody should be respectful to any religion and above all to the local law. As an atheist, it doesn't mean I will offend the faith of others, above all when we all know that Islam is followed ad pedem litterae by any muslim, even for those who are secular or non-religious they are taught since early childhood to respect Islam, Christianity or Judaism or any other religion.

No! Nobody should be respectful towards any religion. They can be if they want to be, and most people are most of the time, but there Is nothing innate about religion or its ideas which mean they have to be respected. People deserve respect, religions do not. I've got very good friends who are religious and I can argue with them about their ideas, and because they're good friends they don't mind - I respect them as friends, not all of the beliefs they hold, and I'm sure they'd say the same about me.


Runningrings, I wasn't aware this is a major issue in Turkey, but good! Istanbul is the only one of the three bidding cities I've visited and in so many ways it is modern and welcoming, so I'm not surprised there are many who are just as worried about this development as I am. My calling the Koran a work of fiction was in part deliberately provocative (because I can and nobody will knock on my door about it), but to be honest you either believe one Holy Book to be true and the others to be fiction or you take them all to be fiction. I'm not sure it was really that controversial a point.

Actually on one of your points I might concede you could be right. Turkey isn't China. There is a chance that awarding the Games to Istanbul might give it a nudge in the right direction and open them up further. Just a chance. That said, you also said this in response to Baron:

This is completely irrelevant to this discussion, unless you think that the Turkish Government is attempting to coerce you into following Islam?

Well, no they're not. But this isn't the first time Turkey has been In the news for promoting blasphemy laws. As olympiaki-agones says, you obey local laws when you're in a country. Fine, and you'd be dumb not to. But Turkey's PM is lobbying the UN along with countries like Pakistan, to criminalise anti-religious expression worldwide, which would silence critics of Islam instantly! So, it's not only a domestic issue and a case of saying local laws should be followed. Erdogan is trying to influence how Islam is treated outside of his own country!

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/sep/24/muslim-led-nations-seek-ban-on-insult/?page=all

That's why I don't think contrasting Turkey's stance (particularly at the UN) with their desire to welcome the World in 2020 is wrong.

#bridgetogether

Edited by RobH
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No! Nobody should be respectful towards any religion. They can be if they want to be, and most people are most of the time, but there Is nothing innate about religion or its ideas which mean they have to be respected. People deserve respect, religions do not. I've got very good friends who are religious and I can argue with them about their ideas, and because they're good friends they don't mind - I respect them as friends, not all of the beliefs they hold, and I'm sure they'd say the same about me.

Religions are made by people, so beliefs and doctrines should be respected as local laws and cultures are, because they're made by people as well. We all know that respect is an universal value highly promoted by the Olympic movement and that includes every single feature that the hosting city provides as a new frontier. I'm not saying foreigners, above all the non-muslims, should worship or embrace the religion but only respect and preventing others to offend the hosts in order to keep that friendly relationships among locals and foreigners.

Once again, Turkey must improve Human Rights! And foreigners must be subject to compliance with applicable local laws.

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Religions are made by people, so beliefs and doctrines should be respected as local laws and cultures are, because they're made by people as well. We all know that respect is an universal value highly promoted by the Olympic movement and that includes every single feature that the hosting city provides as a new frontier. I'm not saying foreigners, above all the non-muslims, should worship or embrace the religion but only respect and preventing others to offend the hosts in order to keep that friendly relationships among locals and foreigners.

Once again, Turkey must improve Human Rights! And foreigners must be subject to compliance with applicable local laws.

Of course people must be subject to the law of the land, and if you go abroad you obey - even if you don't necessarily respect or agree with - their laws. Things would fall apart very quickly if that weren't true! I'm not arguing with that.

What I'm arguing against is:

1. Your idea that "everybody should be respectful to any religion".

2. The use of the law to enforce this idea, thereby criminalising those who are deemed "disrespectful".

3. The lobbying of the UN by certain nations to have such disrespect towards religion criminalised in international law.

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I think that Turkey has a great opportunity to showcase a different and more positive image of Muslim-majority countries regarding diversity and minority rights. Acknowledging and solving all issues with the Church of Constantinople should be the first task. A bold move like this one will absolutely send a very powerful and positive message. We are talking about one of the most celebrated cities in human history and its Olympics has to reflect its diverse and multicultural history.

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Istanbul is one of those few special cities I've visited where you truly get an overwhelming sense of the weight of history behind it. I got this feeling from Beijing, Moscow, London, Paris and NYC. Istanbul is that kind of emotive, powerful place.

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I repeat, unless the Turkish Government is trying to convert you to Islam, your comments are completely irrelevant.

Stupid remark. U don't understand the consequences of such a law for foreigners when they come to participate in an international event like an Olympics. Like what if South Africa had an anti-noise prohibition punishable by death in 2010? Do you think it would've been fun in those WC stadia? :blink: Duh!!

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Istanbul is one of those few special cities I've visited where you truly get an overwhelming sense of the weight of history behind it. I got this feeling from Beijing, Moscow, London, Paris and NYC. Istanbul is that kind of emotive, powerful place.

Sure, I don't think you can deny that.

If Istanbul were an Olympic host city and more cases like this one happen with the AKP continuing their hard line, it'll be massively embarrassing for Turkey. Because just as Brazil's finding now, the world's media are quicker to pick up on stories when the country is suddenly in the spotlight. If they don't change these stupid laws, and the IOC does choose Istanbul, that's the best we can hope for.

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Sure, I don't think you can deny that.

If Istanbul were an Olympic host city and more cases like this one happen with the AKP continuing their hard line, it'll be massively embarrassing for Turkey. Because just as Brazil's finding now, the world's media are quicker to pick up on stories when the country is suddenly in the spotlight. If they don't change these stupid laws, and the IOC does choose Istanbul, that's the best we can hope for.

Turkey and Russia probably have the same attitude we would have in the US... and I assume the UK would have as well.

Oh, you don't like our country's laws? Well fuckyou.

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Like what if South Africa had an anti-noise prohibition punishable by death in 2010? Do you think it would've been fun in those WC stadia? :blink: Duh!!

Baron, I think you are predicting the future here. Anti-noise prohibition = no alcohol allowed in 2022 WC host country. I bet that drunken soccer fans will NOT remain in the alcohol zones and that's when the problems will surface to the entire world to see. Apologies for bringing 2022 WC into this thread but those of us who know the Mid East can foresee how serious this issue will be.

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Stupid remark. U don't understand the consequences of such a law for foreigners when they come to participate in an international event like an Olympics. Like what if South Africa had an anti-noise prohibition punishable by death in 2010? Do you think it would've been fun in those WC stadia? :blink: Duh!!

What are you even arguing? Do you even know? So I'll assume you're confused and contradicting yourself. Your original comment (which I've quoted above):

"That's fine within their BORDERS. But they should NOT expect the non-muslim countries to follow their lead. Why should they? If there is freedom of thought and expression in other lands, then the muslims have to respect that too, regardless of whether their beliefs are insulted or made fun of. Is their "cult" so weak that it cannot withstand criticism and dissent from others? Then it must be so. That is what the muslim mindset must understand -- they do NOT own the planet."

1. This is within their borders, this discussion has to do with blasphemy laws within Turkey. And just so its known, like many other Muslim and non-Muslim countries that have similar laws these often relate simply to criticism of the State - NOT religion, as in this particular case. Turkey is SECULAR.

2. This has nothing to do with what is going on "in other lands". What are you even referring to?

3. This "cult" is the second largest religion in the world.

4. What on earth does this the rest of your drivel have to do with the topic at hand? Are you really branding the billions of Muslims around the world, of thousands of different ethnicities and of different cultures and classes as one and the same? You're simply delusion, and a waste of time.

Baron, you claim that foreigners shouldn't be have to adhere to Turkey's anti-blashphemy laws, but how would you feel if I, as an Australian, came to the United States and did a big sh!t on Old Glory and set it on fire? Such an act is illegal under US law. That is, in essence, a blasphemy law. So, as we don't have any similar laws in Australia, I feel that as an Australian I should be allowed to do this without any interference from US authorities.

(according to your logic, I can).

Edited by runningrings

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Sure, I don't think you can deny that.

If Istanbul were an Olympic host city and more cases like this one happen with the AKP continuing their hard line, it'll be massively embarrassing for Turkey. Because just as Brazil's finding now, the world's media are quicker to pick up on stories when the country is suddenly in the spotlight. If they don't change these stupid laws, and the IOC does choose Istanbul, that's the best we can hope for.

Well, this is all a given, isn't it? If the IOC wants a squeeky clean Olympic host it should permanently stage the event in Lausanne. Every host selection comes with its baggage, some moreso than others. I'd say of all the 2020 candidates, Spain is probably the least controversial option. Japan isn't exactly a favourite option for many of its Asian neighbours, and Turkey has its own swag of domestic issues, such as this.

As you all know, I support Istanbul's bid for 2020, but I'm not denying the issues Turkey needs to address, and as I've said, the Olympics is a major external pressure that can help the country move further down the progressive path it has been on its the founding of its secular Republic in 1923. Part of this "external pressure" is the scrutiny of the international community.

Baron, I think you are predicting the future here. Anti-noise prohibition = no alcohol allowed in 2022 WC host country. I bet that drunken soccer fans will NOT remain in the alcohol zones and that's when the problems will surface to the entire world to see. Apologies for bringing 2022 WC into this thread but those of us who know the Mid East can foresee how serious this issue will be.

Heads up - Istanbul is not in the Middle East. Qatar is, so I'm not sure how that is relevant.

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What are you even arguing? Do you even know? So I'll assume you're confused and contradicting yourself. Your original comment (which I've quoted above):

"That's fine within their BORDERS. But they should NOT expect the non-muslim countries to follow their lead. Why should they? If there is freedom of thought and expression in other lands, then the muslims have to respect that too, regardless of whether their beliefs are insulted or made fun of. Is their "cult" so weak that it cannot withstand criticism and dissent from others? Then it must be so. That is what the muslim mindset must understand -- they do NOT own the planet."

1. This is within their borders, this discussion has to do with blasphemy laws within Turkey. And just so its known, like many other Muslim and non-Muslim countries that have similar laws these often relate simply to criticism of the State - NOT religion, as in this particular case. Turkey is SECULAR.

2. This has nothing to do with what is going on "in other lands". What are you even referring to?

3. This "cult" is the second largest religion in the world.

4. What on earth does this the rest of your drivel have to do with the topic at hand? Are you really branding the billions of Muslims around the world, of thousands of different ethnicities and of different cultures and classes as one and the same? You're simply delusion, and a waste of time.

Baron, you claim that foreigners shouldn't be have to adhere to Turkey's anti-blashphemy laws, but how would you feel if I, as an Australian, came to the United States and did a big sh!t on Old Glory and set it on fire? Such an act is illegal under US law. That is, in essence, a blasphemy law. So, as we don't have any similar laws in Australia, I feel that as an Australian I should be allowed to do this without any interference from US authorities.

(according to your logic, I can).

I'm afraid that Baron does make one good point....

"is their cult so weak that it cannot withstand criticism from others?"

Ignoring the word cult, it's the most relevant a question I've seen in this thread so far. The case I opened this thread with is a case of very recently enacted laws at their worst. It begs exactly the question Baron asked. Why should some jokes about Islam leave you with a suspended prison sentence or worse? Why should "the second largest religion in the world" feel threatened by a pianist on Twitter? Is it that weak - it's a question that's definitely worth asking isn't it? It's a complete joke and Turkey cannot call itself secular, even if it has a secular constitution, if it's enacting medieval laws that protect a majority religion from jokes.

Talking about "other lands" - please read the last bit of my post #14 in this thread. This is, at the moment, a domestic issue for Turkey (albeit one that's in the international spotlight). But Erdogan is pushing for similar laws to be enacted internationally, at UN level. Criminalisation of religious defamation, as it would be known, is - in all but name - a rehash of the law certain Islamic nations tried to push through a decade ago; a law that was intended solely to protect Islam! They widened it to "protect" (read 'silence critics of') all religions when their Islam-specific effort garnered little support. Zeke's point - "Oh, you don't like our country's laws? Well fuckyou" - isn't an argument here. Turkey, with other countries (though Turkey is the most Western of these), is trying to influence how everyone is able to speak and write about Islam!

Lastly, yes, nearly all potential hosts have baggage. That's kind of an obvious point. But we've had threads on Rio's crime, on London's riots, on the war in Iraq, on Korean relations, on Chinese Human Rights. And there are people who wouldn't and didn't support bids from these countries because of these issues. And now we've got a thread on Turkey's medieval blasphemy law. Let's just say I didn't want them to feel left out! :P

Edited by RobH

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Oh, and this is @runningwild, recent poster boys of terrorism, Tamerlane & Dzohbar Tsarnaev are muslims. Why is that so familiar again?

Edited by baron-pierreIV

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