Erdoğan, a friend or a foe of artists?
Let me explain one by one:
One: It is an extreme nonsense, injustice and shame for the celebrities who attended the meeting where Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan publicized his “Presidency Vision Document” to be subjected to so many insults.
Two: Any singer, writer, poet, sculptor, actor, painter, TV star, etc. can support and should be able to support any policy or any politician they want.
Three: It is also right and correct that Prime Minister Erdoğan protected those who attended the meeting by saying, “We will not credit these kinds of lynch campaigns.”
Four: However, there is a “but” part of this “issue.” When we do not agree, we only protect the ones who are close to us. Prime Minister Erdoğan’s attitude toward art and artists, as in any other field, is close to saying, “You are either mine or mother earth’s.” When we make a simple test of the sincerity of his words, “We do not credit lynch campaigns” we see that they will immediately shatter and crash.
Let’s take the issue of actor Mehmet Ali Alabora.
The tweet Alabora wrote during the Gezi Park protests (“Don’t you still get it? The issue is not the tree”) was transformed into a lynch campaign when Erdoğan personally identified him as a target.
With the headlines of pro-government newspapers full of fabrications, exaggerations and slander, not only Alabora but all artists who opposed the government’s policies were made into targets.
For instance, Erdoğan complained about Alabora while addressing a crowd audience in Vienna. “The so-called artists. Oh, don’t I love those artists. What artist?” he said. This leaves no room for us to perceive him as “the ever-friendly prime minister of arts and artists, the master of biennials, the patron of festivals, the protector of museums…”
During Gezi, when Erdoğan was in Ankara’s Altınpark amid his marathon of mobile meetings, his speech - which was seasoned with “boos” from the crowd - had a dominant tone of “What? Opposition to me, is that so? I will hunt you down.” It did not have the view that the artist can support or oppose whoever he or she wishes. He said, “I am talking to the artists. What have you not achieved in our 10 years of power that you wished for? What have you asked for and not received from this government, which devoted the state theaters to you? The process will not work like this anymore. It will work very differently because those who do not respect the government of this nation will pay the price…”
The pro-government newspapers, after being loaded with these words, wrote various headlines, such as daily Yeni Akit’s “Here are the ones who support the looters.” Would you assess this headline as a “lynch campaign” or “promotion campaign”? Well, it’s up to you.
In that headline, artists and journalists were named one by one in a list, making them all targets, and the following expression was used: “Our paper has researched the bankers, businessman and artists who our Prime Minister Erdoğan pointed out and compiled the statements and tweets of these people in question.”
You can easily understand whether or not lynch campaigns are credited in the New Turkey.
Opposing “lynch campaigns” can only be meaningful if a stance against all these kind of campaigns is developed, and thus the sincerity test is passed.
Otherwise, with this “Don’t you dare touch my Şahan, but you are free to hit Alabora” stance, you can only make us say, “Hey, fake Shakespeare, do not swagger so much. We know each other only too well from the backstage!”