Turkish pop music diva attracts Erdoğan’s wrath due to lyrics of 2017 song

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has jumped on the bandwagon of people criticizing and threatening Turkey’s pop music diva, Sezen Aksu, who has been at the center of a controversy since the start of 2022 due to the lyrics of a 2017 song in which she allegedly insults religious values.

The 2017 song came to public attention after the singer posted it on her YouTube channel two weeks ago with a note to celebrate 2022. “Pleasure and pain, plans and games, standing tall or hitting the bottom, it is wonderful to be alive,” go the lyrics. “Here we are, on a rollercoaster, heading straight to disaster, say hi to that ignorant Adam and Eve,” say the lyrics of the song.

The singer has been receiving criticism, complaints, threats and attacks from conservative and religious circles, who accuse her of blasphemy.

Erdoğan, who spoke to people at the Büyük Çamlıca Mosque in İstanbul following Friday prayers, said, without mentioning the singer’s name, that nobody can insult Hz. Adam and Hz. Eve, using the honorific religious titles.

“The insults are in abundance. You are the ones who will stand firm against all these. Nobody can insult Hz. Adam. When necessary, it is our duty to rip off the tongues who insult him. Nobody can insult Hz. Eve. [If they do] it is our duty to make them know their place,” said Erdoğan in remarks that targeted the singer.

Erdoğan and his Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) are accused of abusing Islamic values to boost their support although their actions are found by many in violation of the basic principles of the Islamic religion.

After the song’s lyrics sparked criticism and threats by conservative politicians, media outlets and circles, a number of opposition politicians, singers, actors and actresses in Turkey expressed support for Aksu, taking to social media and posting messages under the hashtag #SezenAksuYalnızDeğildir (Sezen Aksu isn’t alone.)

The vaguely worded Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) penalizes “public degradation of religious values” and if the act disturbs the public peace, the offender may be imprisoned from six months to one year.

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