Journalist jailed over anti-Muslim film

2013-05-22 19:04
A Pakistani Muslim demonstrator throws a tear gas shell back towards riot police during their attempt to reach the US embassy during a protest against an anti-Islam film in Islamabad. (File, AFP)

A Pakistani Muslim demonstrator throws a tear gas shell back towards riot police during their attempt to reach the US embassy during a protest against an anti-Islam film in Islamabad. (File, AFP)

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Ankara - An Istanbul court on Wednesday sentenced Turkish-Armenian journalist Sevan Nisanyan to one year in jail for blasphemy over a blog supporting a controversial anti-Islam film, the Anatolia news agency reported.

The court found Nisanyan guilty of "publicly insulting the religious values of part of the population" in a 2012 article over the low-budget Innocence of Muslims which sparked protests across the Arab world.

The case is the latest in a string of trials testing freedom of expression in a country which has long sought to join the European Union.

Nisanyan had given a spirited freedom of speech defence for the Innocence of Muslims, which portrayed the life of the Prophet Muhammad and touched on the themes of paedophilia and homosexuality.

"Mocking an Arab leader who centuries ago claimed to have contacted God and made political, financial and sexual benefits out of this is not a crime of hatred," he wrote in his blog.

Prosecutors accused Nisanyan of "overstepping the boundaries of freedom of speech and criticism" and said his article served to "disturb public order".

The journalist, who was not present at Wednesday's hearing, was sentenced to one year and 45 days in prison, higher than the usual nine months, because the offence was committed through the media, according to Anatolia.

In April, an Istanbul court ordered a retrial for world-renowned pianist Fazil Say, who was sentenced to 10 months in prison for allegedly inciting religious hatred and insulting Islamic values in a series of tweets he posted last year.

Read more on:    turkey  |  religion  |  prophet protests

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