Turkey’s renowned pianist Fazıl Say offered to make peace with Turkish ambassadors and other diplomats in a statement on Instagram concerning the cancellation of some of his concerts abroad, the T24 news website reported on Friday.
“Let’s open a clean, new page of friendship,” Say wrote on Instagram. Referring to his close relations and mutual admiration for many ambassadors in the past, he added that the last six years had put a wall between him and the staff of Turkey’s embassies.
Say has been an open critic of the Turkish government, calling its actions towards the arts “restrictive and destructive” in his articles, interviews and letters to the prime minister and Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and urging the government to cooperate with artists rather than “seeing them as enemies.”
“No ambassadors have come to my concerts for a year,” he told the Hürriyet daily in April 2015. The same year he wrote, “I don’t want to see any more diplomats at my concerts,” in an article in the Cumhuriyet daily after his performance was removed from a concert in Qatar, with the reason thought to have been lobbying by the Turkish Embassy. He also hinted that embassies were pressuring European concert organizers to not invite him to perform.
Say further wrote in his peace call to ambassadors that some of the ambassadors who tried to block his concerts were discharged from their jobs due to Gülen movement connections.
The Gülen movement is accused of orchestrating a coup attempt and has been designated a “terrorist organization” by Turkish authorities, claims strongly denied by the movement.
He was sentenced to 10 months in prison over a series of tweets quoting 11th century Persian poet Omer Khayyam on charges of “insulting religious values” in 2013.
It was recently revealed that the tweets were reported to police by a follower of Adnan Oktar, a notorious religious cult leader, TV personality and creationist who was detained along with some of his followers on July 11, 2018 on a variety of accusations including sexual harassment of minors and sexual assault.
“The dark Adnan Hoca organization is revealed to be behind my tweet trial. How shameful and hurtful! But I want to see hope in the future. I know we can make it,” Say wrote in his Instagram statement.