Bar association challenges controversial music ban at top court

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The Ankara Bar Association has petitioned Turkey’s top administrative court for the cancellation of a ban on live music performances in public venues after 12 a.m., Turkish media outlets reported.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan drew the ire of opposition politicians and thousands of social media users, in addition to musicians, after announcing last week that the country would 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 would remain.

Erdoğan last 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, sparking outrage.

Many argued that prohibiting live 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.

In its petition to the Council of State, the bar association said it is the duty of the state to protect the arts and artists in line with the 64th article of the Turkish Constitution, and that hence the partial music ban should be lifted.

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