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Turkish pianist sentenced for blasphemy to be retried

Published: Updated:

An Istanbul court on Friday accepted a request for a retrial from Turkish pianist Fazil Say who was earlier this month sentenced for blasphemy over posts on social media, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported.

Say, a world-renowned pianist, was on April 15 handed a 10-month suspended jail term for insulting religious values, in a ruling that drew international criticism of Turkey's freedom of expression record.

The 43-year-old virtuoso, who has played with the philharmonic orchestras of Berlin, New York, Tokyo and Israel, was charged with inciting religious hatred and insulting Islamic values in a series of tweets.

The charges relate to tweets from April last year, including one where he said: “I am not sure if you have also realized it, but all the pricks, low-lives, buffoons, thieves, jesters, they are all Allahists.”

Say has accused the AKP, the ruling Justice and Development Party, of being behind the case against him.

Say, an atheist, has often criticized the Islamist-rooted party, accusing it of having a secret agenda to promote conservative values in Turkey.