Bursa province’s Nilifer district municipality announced that they decided to cancel their annual music festival which planned to be organized on Sep. 1-3 in protest against the district governor’s ban on camping and alcohol sales.
Nilüferlilerin ve geyikseverlerin heyecanla beklediği bu yıl 1-2-3 Eylül’de 7.’sini düzenlemeye hazırlandığımız Nilüfer Müzik Festivali’ne, kamp ve alkol yasağı geldi. Bu nedenle 7. Nilüfer Müzik Festivali’ni iptal etme kararı aldık. Bu engellemelere karşı gerekli hukuki… pic.twitter.com/SEn6L0Z3jk— Nilüfer Belediyesi (@NiluferBel) August 10, 2023
District’s mayor Turgay Erdem on Aug. 10 held a press conference attended by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) officials and MPs and said that the government wanted to block the festival just like last year.
Erdem stated that they regret seeing similar attempts to cancel festivals and concerts in different parts of Turkey and that they consider this as an intervention in different lifestyles.
“Since 2015, we have organized this event without any problems. What has changed now that permission is denied? This festival is the biggest festival organized by a public institution in Turkey and the only camping festival from the country that is a member of the European Festivals Association (YOUROPE),” the mayor said.
Erdem stated that the festival, which has so far hosted 173 performances from 42 countries, 300,000 participants, and 30,000 tented guests, has not experienced any problems because all kinds of security measures have been taken, and added "There is nothing to justify this prevention.”
A civil society platform consisting of several Islamist NGOs on July 7 released a memorandum named “Let’s say ‘No’ to wrong-doings at the festivals” and demanded that festivals be canceled on the grounds that they “direct the youth to illicit, nonethical relations, intoxicating alcohol and substance use, rebellion, and riots.”
Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s radical Islamist ally Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR) has targeted concerts, with the party spokesman Yunus Emiroğlu saying, “It is totally unacceptable to disregard moral values under the name of ‘entertainment’ and for the youth to be dragged into subversion.”
He said that municipalities have been causing a “waste of public sources” by organizing “so-called festivals.” “Such activities that have no contribution whatsoever to our culture, social fabric and country's economy distract the youth from all of their ideals, values, aims and priorities,” he said on Aug. 9.
After many of the country's major festivals were targeted by Islamists and banned by the authorities last year, most of them have not been organized this summer.