A group of Turkists/Islamists who have been political ally of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attacked an art exhibition at İstanbul’s Abdülmecid Efendi Mansion on Saturday chanting against secularism and vowing to prevent the exhibition from continuing.
A group of pro-Erdoğan Turkists/Islamists entered the exhibition named “Doors Open to Those Who Knock” at Abdülmecid Efendi Mansion in the Üsküdar district, where businessman Ömer Koç’s art collection was opened to the public.
“Is this what secularism is about? The country has reached this low because of you,” the group chanted during the attack on a nude sculpture titled “The Man Beneath the Sweater” by Ron Mueck, T24 online news portal has reported.
The group then attempted to damage the Mueck work, pushing a security guard to the floor and vowing to prevent such works being displayed. Other security guards then distanced them from the artwork and escorted them from the gallery space. Visitors present at the exhibition reportedly protested against the attackers by applauding ironically.
Security guards told the T24 that they handed the protestors to the police but the authorities usually let attackers go without sanction in such cases. One of the attackers has been identified as Mahmut Alan, a former leader of the right-wing nationalist Great Union Party (BBP). Alan was later taken to testify to a prosecutor after he published a video of the attack on his Facebook account, news website Diken reported on Oct. 22.
“I pulled the sculpture down and threw it a couple of meters away,” Alan reportedly testified, adding that he believed the naked sculpture had been exhibited in a minibar. He was later freed by police.
A second attack at the exhibition was reported the next day. Pro-Erdoğan Islamist daily Yeni Söz reported on the attack on Sunday and also pointed to the ongoing Istanbul Biennial as another possible target. Another pro-government newspaper source, daily Takvim, reported that “the disgrace exhibited in the historic mansion caused a scene.”
Mahmut Alan, who attacked an exhibition was freed by a court on condition of judicial supervision, the T24 news website reported on Monday. According to the report, Mahmut Alan came from the northwestern Turkish province of Bolu to İstanbul and launched an attack on the exhibition. He was detained by the police but subsequently freed by the court under judicial supervision. Mahmut Alan reportedly has a long criminal record with 24 violations and was a former member of the BBP in Bolu province.
Meanwhile, the audience protested the word ‘guerilla’ in the subtitle of the first competition film called “İnsan Seli (Flood of People)” directed by Ai Wiewei at 54th International Antalya Film Festival, the documentary was stopped in half.
According to a report by Bianet, some viewers protested the word ‘guerilla appearing in a scene shot in Turkey’s Southeastern Region screened at open-air cinema set up next to Cam Piramit Fair and Congress Center. Some other viewers left the open-air cinema. The movie was stopped in half “due to a technical difficulty,” said Filmartı company, which has all the rights of the movie. The documentary tells the displacement of 65 million people by force due to war, starvation and climate change.
Antalya Film Festival had drawn a rebuff because of having removed the national competition. The festival was also criticized due to its acts of censorship. After the documentary called “Yeryüzü Aşkın Yüzü Oluncaya Dek” directed by Reyan Tuvi telling Gezi Resistance was removed from the program, 151 moviemakers decided to boycott the festival.