Fazıl Say, Turkey's most celebrated concert pianist recently tested the waters of political commentary by putting his toe in and found – Allah, Allah! – that there were sharks in the water ready to eat him alive.
Say's mistake was that he should have remained absolutely silent until his power base was strong enough to withstand the sharks and other attacks. It may be that he will never be able to speak about conditions in Turkey until he is living in a foreign country where there is real freedom of speech.
What he said was the truth, thinly obscured. The Islamists control about 70 percent of Turkey and they are gradually restraining thought and behavior more and more. Soon Say will be free to compose and perform whatever he wants, as long as it satisfies the Islamist bosses.
Eventually, the situation will become like that of Russia under Joseph Stalin (a last name the ruthless Georgian adopted meaning “man of steel.”) In that Russia, world-famous composers Serge Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich had to satisfy Stalin's musical taste, and that of some other top officials in the Communist party. If they didn't, they were not just accused but convicted without trial of “decadent Western formalism” and they were forbidden to perform or to have their works performed. They were exiled from the creative musical world that they lived in and for.
Under those conditions, Prokofiev and Shostakovich recanted, perhaps more than once, admitted their “terrible error,” and composed something light and tuneful that would satisfy the good-old, honored and respected Joe Stalin (heart of steel, too) and his associates. The creative atmosphere was like being in Hell with an out-of-tune piano that had only black keys, and feeling there was no exit.
Say recanted. Said his remarks had been mistranslated or misinterpreted.