Ongoing music ban after midnight prompts outrage among Turkey’s musicians

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has drawn the ire of opposition politicians and thousands of social media users, in addition to musicians in Turkey, after announcing that the country will soon lift Sunday lockdowns and roll back most other restrictions as the latest wave of the pandemic subsides, but that a partial ban on live music performances will remain.

Erdoğan on Monday said Sunday lockdowns and evening curfews would be lifted from July 1 in Turkey, where the nation of 84 million has been gradually reopening after entering its first full national lockdown in late April, adding that concert halls and other music venues will have to close by midnight.

“We are pushing the restrictions on music to 12 a.m. Don’t be offended, but no one has the right to disturb others at night,” he said.

Following Erdoğan’s announcement, tens of thousands of social media users, including opposition politicians and musicians, took to Twitter and posted reactions under the hashtag #kusurabakıyoruz (We do take offense), which became a top trending topic in Turkey and world lists.

Many argued that prohibiting live and recorded music from being played in restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels and similar venues after midnight has nothing to do with the fight against COVID-19, but that it was an ideology-related attempt to interfere in people’s lifestyles.

“We are sorry for causing you a disturbance for years,” well-known singer and songwriter Cem Adrian tweeted.

Redd, a Turkish rock band, stated that Turkish musicians have suffered more than most during the pandemic and that it was due to ideological reasons.

Having no other source of income, lacking insurance and not qualified for state benefits or bank loans, more than 100 musicians have died by suicide in Turkey since the pandemic started in March 2020, according to local media reports.

“Music doesn’t disturb, it heals disturbed souls. Musicians don’t disturb, they only produce art,” Turkish singer, songwriter and actress Aylin Aslım said.

“We do take offense, and you can’t interfere in our lives. Go away and take your ideology with you,” Cem Köksal, a Turkish heavy metal guitarist, composer and songwriter, tweeted, addressing Erdoğan.

“Nobody has the right to disturb others with construction work, either! But people are allowed to work at construction sites 24 hours a day, even near residential areas,” Armağan Çağlayan, a Turkish television producer and lawyer, pointed out.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been emphasizing that the measures are ideological. Erdoğan, if you want to talk about a disturbance, the whole country is disturbed by you. What are you going to do about that?” Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said.

CHP deputy chair Onursal Adıgüzel sarcastically said in a tweet that they would have an after-party and play lots of music when they overthrow the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in the next elections.

“That music will be played and that liquor will be drunk, people won’t be defeated by your dreams of a shariah [regime]! And the disturbance you have caused us will eventually be over! A paragon of arrogance,” Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) MP Barış Atay said, addressing Erdoğan.

Erdoğan and his ruling AKP also attracted criticism for banning the sale of alcoholic beverages in stores during the lockdown that was imposed on April 29 and ran through May 16, 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 coronavirus pandemic.

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