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Turkish intellectuals rally behind pop star threatened by Islamists

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Turkish singer Sezen Aksu performing in Amsterdam in December 2005. Photo: EPA/RICK NEDERSTIGT

More than 200 Turkish intellectuals, including writers, journalists, musicians and academics, have backed Turkish pop queen Sezen Aksu, who has been threatened by Islamist and nationalist groups over a song she wrote five years ago .

Sezen Aksu will never walk alone, the intellectuals said in an open letter and added that they were watching President Recep Tayyip Erdogans target Sezen Aksu in violation of freedom of expression.

We are right in front of this attack on Sezen Aksu, who has been writing, singing and contributing dozens of songs to the cultural heritage of this land for 47 years, the letter says.

Aksus’ song would have insulted the biblical Adam and Eve. In Islam, Adam is considered the first prophet, while Eve was his wife.

Many Islamist and nationalist groups attacked Sezen Aksu over the lyrics and staged protests outside his house in Istanbul.

“Some pseudo-artists compete with each other to depreciate our national and spiritual values ​​and insult religion under the guise of art,” said Murat Sahin, chairman of the Radical National Defense Movement.

President Erdogan meanwhile threatened to “cut” Sezen Aksu’s tongue during Friday prayers. It is our duty to cut these tongues out, he said.

Sezen Aksu responded to criticism and attacks on Saturday by sharing the lyrics to a new song. I am the prey you are the hunter. Just shoot, Aksu wrote, adding that she will continue to write and sing.

While Islamist and nationalist groups are targeting Turkey’s biggest pop singer and songwriter, the government has also targeted Sedef Kabas, a veteran journalist, for her statements about President Erdogan and her recitation of a proverb.

“There is a very famous saying that a crowned head becomes wiser. But we see that is not true,” Kabas told Tele1 channel on Friday. “A bull does not become king simply by entering the palace, but the palace becomes a barn,” she added, reciting a Circassian proverb.

A court ordered his detention for insulting the president and jailed Kabas on Saturday. The charge of insulting the president carries a prison sentence of one to four years.

The Radio and Television Supreme Council, RTUK, the state agency responsible for monitoring, regulating and sanctioning radio and television broadcasts, imposed a fine on the Tele1 television station on Monday.

The TV show Kabas attended will be interrupted for five shows and the TV channel may have to pay 8% of its profits as an administrative fine.

According to official figures, by the end of 2020, more than 160,000 people had been investigated for alleged insults against President Erdogan and more than 38,000 people had been tried by a court for the same reason in when Erdogan was prime minister and then president since 2002.

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