Sakarya University has cancelled a play starring thespian Fırat Tanış and justified its action by labeling the artist as “political” and “a supporter of Gezi,” the Artı Gerçek news website reported on Thursday.
Rumors surrounding the cancellation were confirmed to the website by a media representative from the Anıl Medya company, which is responsible for the staging of Tanış’s plays.
The university reportedly backpedaled on its initial decision to allocate its convention center for the production on the grounds that Tanış is political and a supporter of the nationwide anti-government Gezi protests that shook the country in 2013 and were violently suppressed by the Turkish government.
The Serdivan Municipality’s cultural center, another venue where the play was scheduled to run, also reversed its allocation of one of its halls for the event, citing as the reason Tanış’s support for Metin Akpınar and Müjdat Gezen, veteran Turkish actors who were arrested and released on probation under a travel ban in December after they were verbally targeted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over their fascism-related remarks on a TV show.
The incident echoed another similar one back in December in which actor Levent Üzümcü’s scheduled play in Gaziantep had to be cancelled after the venue was withdrawn. In his announcement on Twitter, Üzümcü, a prominent figure during the Gezi protests, had attributed the cancellation to fears and repression.