Turkey condemns ‘orientalist’ event at Paris fair

Turkey condemns ‘orientalist’ event at Paris fair

Turkey condemns ‘orientalist’ event at Paris fair

The pavilion’s use of clichéd figures such as a belly dancer and men wearing fez hats and smoking hookah raised eyebrows over the weekend on social media.

Turkey’s Economy Ministry has vowed to pursue the punishment of those responsible for an “orientalist”-toned organization held at the Turkish pavilion in a Parisian textile fair, describing the activities as an “assault on Turkish culture.”

The pavilion’s use of clichéd figures such as a belly dancer and men wearing fez hats and smoking hookah at the “Who’s Next” trade show raised eyebrows over the weekend on social media.

The show opened at Paris’ Expo Porte de Versailles on July 4, in partnership with Turkey’s Association of Textile Exporters and Clothing, Istanbul (ITKIB) for the Spring/Summer 2015 season, in celebration of
Turkish design.

The Economy Ministry has issued a statement denying any involvement in the installation of the pavilion, saying the controversial activities were held by the main organizers of the fair and outside the knowledge of the Turkish representatives.

“It has been learnt that, with the aim of contributing to the promotion of our country as an honorary guest, some activities that have no relation to our country or our national organization were held by the fair’s main organizer WSN Development on July 4. These took place after the routine daily activities of the companies representing Turkey at the fair ended and after the fair’s official closure time,” the ministry said, in the statement released on July 7.

“Elements that don’t represent our country’s cultural assets, that offend our moral values, and that were presented as Ottoman were used at the so-called organization. We strongly condemn, which was aimed at humiliating our country and history,” the ministry added.

The statement noted that WSN Development had sent an apology letter regarding the issue on the day after the opening and claimed full responsibility.

It also stressed the “sensitivity over the issue” will remain “until those responsible give an account for the disrespect,” vowing to attend no more fairs organized by WSN Development in France, and to not permit it to take part in any events future in Turkey.

“Moreover, necessary actions will be taken at France’s Turkey ambassador level about this ugly incident and the Economy Ministry will ask the related French ministry to do what needs to be done,” the statement said.

Following angry reactions on social media, the İHKİB, which was overseeing the promotion of the Turkish pavilion, also released a statement on July 5, similarly rejecting involvement in the criticized activities.

“The spectacle was held at a time when the fair was closed, and was organized completely out of our knowledge … Our team intervened quickly and stopped the show. We immediately made it clear to the fair administration that we condemn the show and we protest against it. The companies that have participated in the fair have also protested against the show,” İHKİB vice chairman Volkan Atik stated, according to daily Hürriyet.