ISTANBUL — An Istanbul court has sentenced Turkish-Armenian writer Sevan Nisanyan to 58 weeks in prison for an alleged insult to the Prophet Muhammad in a blog post, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.

The prosecutor had been seeking one and a half years of jail time for Nisanyan on charges of “insulting the religious beliefs held by a section of the society.”

The sentence cannot be converted to a financial penalty, but Nisanyan has the right to appeal.
He was charged with blasphemy after writing a blog post titled, “[We] need to fight hate speech.”
The court approved a seven-page indictment prepared in the course of the inquest. Nisanyan, however, didn’t plead guilty at the trial.

“Making fun of an Arab leader who claimed he contacted Allah hundreds of years ago and received political, financial and sexual benefits is not hate speech,” Nisanyan said in his post last year. “It is an almost kindergarten-level test of what is called freedom of expression.”

On May 22, the day of the sentencing, Nisanyan retweeted his blog post, writing, “Let’s share the article that was sentenced to 13-and-a-half months at the Istanbul 10th Criminal Court for insulting religious bla-bla.”

Last month, renowned Turkish pianist Fazil Say was also handed a suspended 10-month prison sentence for blasphemy, after a case that drew national and international reaction.

Say had been the focus of a legal battle after he retweeted several lines, attributed to poet Omar Khayyam in April 2012, saying, “You say its rivers will flow in wine. Is the Garden of Eden a drinking house? You say you will give two houris to each Muslim. Is the Garden of Eden a whorehouse?”

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