Mittwoch, 17. April 2013

Freedom in Turkey Is At Stake

What happens in Turkey at the moment is really worrisome. Fazil Say, a pianist, was sentenced to ten month suspended prison time because of, get this, blasphemy. Blasphemy legislation exists in many states and it is still formally on the books in many European countries and my native Germany rather shamefully is amongst these states. Yet, it is also impossible to implement. After all, it always requires someone to judge where freedom of expression ends because of the religious sensitivities of someone else. This can hardly ever be done in any objectively just way. It is also idiotic, since progress and reason always have had to overcome religion and superstition, the confrontation with religious belief is inevitable for anyone seeking scientific and social progress. Blasphemy laws are hence nothing less than a barrier to innovation and even more importantly to freedom of expression, mind and press.

It is needless to say that the West should strongly remind Turkey that this is taking the country in the wrong direction. One can easily imagine the smirk on Erdogan's face when he was asked to comment on this bizarre case. But it is equally worrisome that Western nations are not commenting at all or, when they do, along the lines of the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, who seems to fail grasping the serious consequences of any such sentence.

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