Erdağ Göknar: Pianist’s Conviction Shows Weakening of Turkish Secularism

[ 0 ] April 16, 2013

by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCommentary on APRIL 16, 2013: 

Erdağ Göknar

Erdağ Göknar

Fazil Say, a Turkish pianist, was convicted this week of “denigrating religion” through comments on Twitter. According to a BBC report on Monday, “Say has been given a suspended 10-month jail sentence for insulting Muslim values,” and “he denied the charges, saying they were politically motivated.” (For more including the ‘offensive Tweet’ see here)

Eric Ferreri, with Duke’s Office of News & Communications, spoke to Erdağ Göknar (Assistant professor of Turkish & Middle Eastern Studies at Duke University and author of Orhan Pamuk, Secularism and Blasphemy) about the conviction.

“This trial is the latest example of Turkey’s own estrangement from its long tradition of what might be termed ‘Islamo-secularism.’  Turkish history represents one of the few successful examples of the coexistence of a strong secular state tradition along with the cultures of Islam, one that extends back to Ottoman rule in the Balkans and the Middle East,” said Göknar.

“This case and others are unfortunate show-trials, meant to champion just one aspect of a long-standing dual Turkish identity. If the prosecutors in these trials just looked into the mirror of their own history, they’d find an answer to Turkey’s current identity crisis.”

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