Musicians in Turkey overwhelmed by frequent bans on concerts

Musicians in Turkey, who represent one of the professions hit hardest by fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, are now struggling with bans imposed on their concerts by local administrations across the country under various pretexts, Turkish Minute reported.

Local administrations continue to ban concerts planned to be held across Turkey, citing a variety of reasons including public safety and respect for Turkish soldiers killed during a military operation in Iraq, in moves seen by many as attempts by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to interfere in people’s lifestyles and try to force its Islamic values on the nation.

Turkish media reports on Thursday said the Bursa Governor’s Office canceled a concert to be performed by Kurdish singer, songwriter and composer Mem Ararat in the city on May 29, citing a statement by the organizer.

“… The Mem Ararat concert was canceled on the grounds of ‘public safety.’ We received the cancellation decision for our concert this morning, three days before the concert, for which all the preparations were completed and all tickets were sold,” Ziz Music said in a written statement released on social media on Thursday.

A concert by famous singer Melek Mosso that was scheduled for June 3 was also canceled by the Isparta Municipality on Wednesday, after the musician was targeted by the pro-government Anatolia Youth Association (AGD) and National Youth Organization (MGV).

The organizations on Wednesday described Mosso’s concert in a written statement as an event that would “damage national and moral values” as Mosso was a singer who “encourages immorality,” requesting that the municipality cancel the event.

Following the organizations’ joint statement, Isparta Mayor Şükrü Başdeğirmen shared the city’s concert schedule once again, where Mosso’s concert was omitted.

The AGD and MGV released another statement to thank Başdeğirmen for banning the concert.

Mosso on Thursday criticized the developments in a series of tweets, saying, “It’s not the place of a few ignorant people to question my morals, [and] insult my femininity. People with such a mentality are trying to bring the darkness and perversion in their own hearts into our lives, but I will never allow this, we will not [allow it].”

Turkish musician and Musicians and Music Performers’ Vocational Union (MÜYORBİR) board chair Burhan Şeşen on Wednesday announced that concerts scheduled to take place at the Ankara-based Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) were canceled by the rector’s office.

“All the efforts of the International Youth Society, which organized the concert, were in vain. Students have worked so hard for a year [for this event]. [And] this is the result. Anyone who took this decision and turned a blind eye to it are clearly bad [people],” Şeşen said in a tweet.

The rector’s office said in a statement that the ban was due to Turkish soldiers killed during a military operation against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, the number of whom rose to six on Thursday.

A midnight music ban, which was introduced as part of coronavirus measures and has not yet been lifted, despite the easing of other COVID-19-related measures, is among the reasons why dissidents accuse the ruling AKP of interfering with people’s lifestyles.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling AKP also attracted criticism for banning the sale of alcoholic beverages in stores during coronavirus lockdowns, with many accusing the president of trying to force his Islamic values on the nation by way of a ban that had nothing to do with the pandemic.

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