Famous Turkish pianist says he sensed quest for compromise in Erdoğan’s voice

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Turkish pianist and composer Fazil Say PHOTO: Arif Hudaverdi Yaman / Anadolu Agency

World-famous Turkish pianist and composer Fazıl Say, who has been criticized on social media for getting closer to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, responded on Tuesday and said he sensed a quest for compromise in Erdoğan’s voice.

Commenting on his Instagram account, Say said when Erdoğan called him to convey condolences after his mother’s death, he sensed compromise in the president’s voice. Until recently, Say was disliked by government circles due to his critical stance against Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

During the phone call the pianist invited Erdoğan to one of his concerts, and the president’s attendance at his Jan. 18 performance in Ankara sparked debate on social media. Erdoğan is a frequent critic of artists who support of the secular nature of the Turkish Republic.

Several weeks ago, Erdoğan said people asking him to drink beer or listen to prominent German composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the hope that his style of governing the country would improve were engaging in “utter fascism.”

In 2013 a Turkish court convicted Say of blasphemy and inciting hatred over a series of comments he made on Twitter in 2012.

The musician was given a suspended 10-month sentence.

In one message he retweeted a verse from a poem by Omar Khayyám in which the 11th-century Persian poet attacks pious hypocrisy: “You say rivers of wine flow in heaven, is heaven a tavern to you? You say two huris [companions] await each believer there, is heaven a brothel to you?” In other tweets, he made fun of a muezzin (a caller to prayer) and certain religious practices.

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