Turkey’s broadcasting watchdog, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), has made phone calls to Turkish television stations, pressuring them not to televise a song by famous Turkish singer Sezen Aksu, the lyrics of which are claimed to denigrate religious values, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported, citing the BirGün daily.
RTÜK president İbrahim Uslu said they did not outright forbid channels to broadcast the song but merely advised them not to do so. “We don’t have the power to stop channels [from televising the song], but the song is under investigation. If it is determined that the lyrics are derogatory, then any television channel that aired the song will be penalized. We only issued an advance warning to the channels so they don’t have to face the consequences later,” he said.
The 2017 song came to public attention after Aksu posted it on her YouTube channel two weeks ago with a note to celebrate 2022. The song, titled “Living Is Something Amazing,” includes a sentence that says, “Say hi to that ignorant Adam and Eve.”
In the past week a criminal complaint was filed against Aksu, accusing her of “making derogatory statements about Adam and Eve in a way that may cause public outrage” with the aim of denigrating the religious figures.
Aksu’s song sparked criticism from conservatives. Lawyer Mikail Yılmaz, who was among the people who filed the complaint against Aksu, said the song aroused anger among the believers of Islam.
Stating that the lyrics by Aksu regarding Adam and Eve couldn’t be considered within the scope of freedom of expression, Yılmaz said they were demanding a decision to remove the content and block access to the song on the Internet, in addition to the confiscation of income from the song.
Devlet Bahçeli, leader of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), an ally of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), described Aksu as “irresponsible” for making such a “monstrosity,” in reference to the 2017 song.
More than 20 representatives from the Milli Beka Hareketi, a nationalist movement expressing open support for Bahçeli and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on Tuesday gathered in front of Aksu’s house in İstanbul’s Beykoz district in a move interpreted by many as a threat targeting the famous singer.
The leader of the group, Murat Şahin, said in a press statement that they had gathered in front of Aksu’s house to put the singer in her place for insulting Adam and Eve and not to threaten anyone.
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.)