New ‘pattern of oppression in Turkey sees municipalities, AKP banning music concerts’

New ‘pattern of oppression in Turkey sees municipalities, AKP banning music concerts’
Just so long as this doesn't develop into a display of discontent... / Nicosia Turkish Municipality, cc-by-sa 4.0.
By bne IntelIiNews May 30, 2022

A new pattern of oppression has emerged in Turkey in which central authorities and municipalities governed by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) are busily banning music concerts, according to columnist Yavuz Baydar.

The move is part of the Erdogan regime’s response to “the dead-end the current administration finds itself in, due to the [country’s] unprecedented, multilayered crisis—in the political system, economy, social upheaval, and the ‘mafia-isation’ of the bureaucracy,” writes Baydar in Ahval, of which he is editor-in-chief.

Such a crisis, says Baydar—a journalist who is self-exiled from Turkey—leaves President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “with the choices reminiscent of the playbooks of all autocrats and dictators before him: Create and escalate crisis at home and abroad and tighten the screws of oppression.”

Baydar also observed: “One thing is clear: During one blackout [of a music concert] after another, Turkey's Interior Ministry and the municipalities seem to be working in sync. There is no doubt that, given growing social frustration with the economy, 70 percent inflation and the collapse of the lira, the authorities are extremely worried that any large public gathering may develop into unrest or a display of discontent.

“In enacting new measures to enhance ‘kulturkampf’, which has coincided with the 9th anniversary of nationwide Gezi Park protests against the government, the authorities seem to have secured the backing of local conservative pressure groups. In many cases, campaigns by the groups on social media sought to ease the way for the bans. Perhaps not surprisingly, Islamists and ultra-nationalists seem united, with the former opposing feminist and secular artists and the latter Kurdish, Armenian and foreign musicians. The remarkable silence from Turkey’s broader community of musicians also shows that polarisation is entrenching further in the country.

“No one can deny the unifying, amplifying power of musical performance. Thus, music has become the enemy.”

Baydar quoted Burhan Sesen, a popular singer from Ankara who has also been banned from performing, as joking: "Now we expect Diyanet, the top Sunni religious authority, to issue an edict declaring music as a sin.”

One Turk who seems to have no problem with the state of democracy in Turkey after nearly two decades of Erdogan rule is Erdogan.

He told an audience this week: “There is a truth I believe that no rational and conscientious person can deny these days. This fact is that Turkey has covered a century of progress in the last 20 years in the process of democracy and development.

“In many parts of the world, they ask us how we achieved such gigantic breakthroughs in such a short time, and they send committees to conduct investigations before institutions.”