Erdoğan encourages MPs to speak out against targeted creatives Sezen Aksu and Sedef Kabaş

In the most recent meeting of the AKP's Central Executive Board, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called on his deputies to speak out about pop icon Sezen Aksu and journalist Sedef Kabaş, according to reporting by daily Hürriyet. Meanwhile, a social media campaign has been initiated, calling on citizens to play Aksu's songs every night at 9 p.m. for a week.

This file photo shows journalist Sedef Kabaş (L) and pop icon Sezen Aksu.

Duvar English

At the most recent Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan asked his deputies to speak out alongside him against singer Sezen Aksu and journalist Sedef Kabaş, who are being targeted for “offending religious values” and “insulting the president,” respectively. 

Some AKP MPs insisted to the president that even though incidents with Kabaş and Aksu happened at the same time, the latter was being targeted more heavily, according to reporting by daily Hürriyet.

"The reaction about Sedef Kabaş should be given at every platform. But, Sezen Aksu is a different issue. She has expressed her support during the peace process, she is beloved in society," they reportedly told Erdoğan. 

In response, Erdoğan said: “You of course speak, don’t leave it to me.”

Aksu is being targeted for her song “It is a wonderful thing to live,” in which she refers to Adam and Eve as being "ignorant." Pro-government and ultra-conservative figures have brought lawsuits against her for the song, which was released five years ago.

Kabaş, on the other hand, was arrested on the weekend after criticizing Erdoğan and his government on Tele1’s “Democracy Arena.”

“When a cattle enters a palace, he does not become a king. That palace becomes a barn,” she said, referencing an old Turkish saying.

Both the domestic and international communities have condemned the targeting of Aksu and the arrest of Kabaş. The United States released a statement calling the arrest of Kabaş an attack on freedom of expression. 

“We regret the arrest of journalist Sedef Kabaş. Freedom of speech is universal, and protecting freedom of speech strengthens democracies, even if it includes words considered by some to be controversial or offensive,” spokesperson Ned Price said.

1,032 figures from the Turkish intellectual and creative community also signed a petition condemning the arrests of Kabaş and the targeting of Aksu, as well as the continued detention of figures such as Osman Kavala and Aysel Tuğluk, who suffers from early-onset dementia. 

Citizens called on to play Aksu's songs every night at 9 pm for a week 

In response to the targeting of Aksu, a social media campaign has been initiated, calling on citizens to play the legendary singer's songs every night at 9 p.m. 

“We will play Sezen Aksu songs from our homes, workplaces, radios, windows, cars, and balconies every evening for a week, starting on Tuesday evening, January 25th,” the statement said.