Comedian’s shows canceled after joke on former AKP minister

Turkish comedian Metin Zakoğlu has stated that his theater plays at the Culture Ministry-run Atatürk Cultural Center were canceled after his joke on former minister Murat Kurum, who was defeated in the Istanbul mayoral race as the AKP’s candidate.

Duvar English

Turkish comedian Metin Zakoğlu has announced that the Culture and Tourism Ministry canceled his theatre plays after a joke on deputy and former minister Murat Kurum from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the daily BirGün reported on May 13. 

Speaking to BirGün, Zakoğlu said his five plays at the ministry-run Atatürk Cultural Center (AKM) in Istanbul were canceled despite signing a contract in February and April. 

“We signed a contract with the AKM management to perform my plays Ferhan Şensoy's Hayrola Kayrola and Gogol's Diary of a Madman. However, I was censored because of a joke I made about Murat Kurum that did not contain any insult,” he said.

“All my plays were canceled without question because of the joke I made about Kurum calling (Istanbul’s) Küçükçekmece (district) on the Anatolian side,” he added.

Murat Kurum was defeated in the Istanbul mayoral race as the AKP’s candidate. During the campaign period, he went viral several times because of his blunders either in his speech or for giving misinformation about Istanbul. 

Zakoğlu said he rejected this “anti-democratic and unlawful” decision.

“No one can kick an artist out of venues with a perfectly innocent joke. My lawyers will apply to all necessary authorities. Atatürk Cultural Center is not an AKP cultural center. It is a valuable cultural center named after Atatürk, where artists meet with the audience. No one can impose censorship on artists,” Zakoğlu concluded.

Kurum took the second place in the Istanbul mayoral race in the March 31st local elections with 39 percent of the votes, staying behind Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, from the CHP, who received 51 percent.