The Turkish Interior Ministry has ordered governors to play Ottoman-era composer Itri’s piece with lyrics from Qur’an verses instead of Frédéric François Chopin’s “Marche Funèbre” during the funeral processions of fallen soldiers, reported by Turkish media on Wednesday.
“The honoring procession during martyrs’ funerals will be done with Itri’s ‘Segah Tekbir,’ which is in accordance with the morals of the martyr and its place in the hearts of our nation. The same procedures and principles will be applied for the members of the Interior Ministry when they pass away,” the Interior Ministry said in a written statement on Tuesday. No trumpet will be played during the funerals of soldiers and silence would be observed without any music instruments, the ministry added.
“Our responsibility for the bravery of our martyrs, their families and our nation is eternal. The suitability of the ceremonies according to our national and moral values and the roots of our civilization is the main issue of this responsibility and its importance,” it said.
According to a report by Hurriyet Daily News, the discussions had started after a soldier’s funeral where the friends of the soldier silenced the band playing the funeral march with loud shouts of “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) in the southeastern province of Hakkari’s Yüksekova district on April 3, 2016.
After the incident, Turkey’s War Veterans Foundation head Lokman Aylar announced that they started a campaign to use Itri’s “Tekbir” in the funerals instead. “A foreigner’s death march doesn’t suit our martyrs,” Aylar said on April 12.
Turkey’s Directorate General of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) head Mehmet Görmez offered replacing the funeral march with the 17th century Ottoman composer’s “Tekbir” on April 15, 2016. Itri’s “Segah Tekbir” was for the first time performed on Aug. 29 during the funeral procession of Martyr Gendarmerie Specialist Corporal Muhammed Meriç by the band of the General Gendarmerie Command.
The world-renowned Turkish pianist Fazıl Say’s father and composer-music critic Ahmet Say and Presidential Symphony Orchestra General Music Director and Maestro Rengim Gökmen said in April that Chopin’s funeral march is recognized universally and changing it would break away from the international tradition.