Turks outraged over Erdoğan's midnight music ban: We do take offense!

Social media users, politicians and musicians in Turkey are outraged over a ban on music broadcasts past midnight, which the president announced on June 21 by saying "No offense." The phrase "We do take offense" became a top trending topic on Twitter shortly after the announcement, which President Erdoğan presented as part of the elimination of COVID-19 measures.

Duvar English

Turkey's population has been outraged over a recent ban announced by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on music broadcasts past midnight on the grounds that "No one has the right to disturb others at night."

The president presented the new restriction while announcing the elimination of all other COVID-19 measures, and said "no offense" was intended with the limitation, although the new rule was widely interpreted as the government's further grip on people's lives.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has been slammed for intrusive restrictions they implemented under the guise of COVID-19 prevention measures, most notably bans on alcohol sales.

Music broadcasts were also banned as part of COVID-19 measures, with live music performances banned for over a year and a half during the pandemic. 

President Erdoğan's announcement that a ban on music broadcasts would be implemented past midnight caused uproar not just among musicians grappling with financial struggles, but also the general public. 

The phrase "We do take offense!" became a trending hashtag on Twitter within hours of the president's announcement and social media users giving their personal reasons for protesting the ban.

"We have to say 'Enough is enough' if we don't want a Turkey where everyone is dressed in the same green jacket, can only wear the same length skirts and identical mustaches, and can only vote for him in the elections," tweeted journalist Can Dündar on June 22. 

"The dollar is nine liras on the unit, the Central Bank vault is empty, unemployment is at record levels, bribes and mafia are infesting the country. The state's ports are used as drug storages and the ship is sinking, but the captain is worried about the volume of the music on deck," said one Twitter user named Ayşe Aydoğdu.

One social media user quoted Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic for saying "Music isn't needed in life... Because life is music. Any living creature not related to music is not human."

More than 240,000 tweets had been written with the phrase "We do take offense!" on the topic in less than 24 hours following the president's announcement of the midnight music ban. 

Meanwhile, a rapper dubbed Ağaçkakan who staged a small concert in Istanbul's Kadıköy district at midnight in protest of the music ban was briefly detained by police along with his six-person audience. 

'Sorry for the disturbance'

Turkish musicians took to social media to slam the ban, as well as the president's statement that music was essentially a disturbance. 

"We apologize to everyone for the disturbance we've caused over the years," tweeted singer Cem Adrian. 

Rapper Şanışer noted the duplicity of the president's dubbing music a disturbance by pointing out all other problems in the country. 

"The country is a haven of money laundering, people are stealing 24/7, people are stealing ancient coins from museums, but us musicians can't play past midnight. We do take offense," Şanışer tweeted.

A staunch supporter of the president, even pop singer Demet Akalın spoke out in protest of the ban, tweeting "Sorry?????" in response to the news.

'Some people resorted to manipulation instead of rejoicing'

Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun responded to the mass outrage by saying that anyone who criticized the midnight music ban was manipulating the narrative via "ideological misrepresentation."

"Some people resorted to fraud and manipulation saying that 'music was banned' instead of rejoicing about the new normalization practices with our nation," Altun said on June 22.

The presidential aide said that the protests against the music ban were an attempt to create a false narrative by "those who failed to abandon their habits of old Turkey."

Altun also claimed that the government had supported artists and arts during the pandemic, disregarding the suicides of dozens of musicians and entertainment workers as a result of a total lack of income during the restrictions. 

'You disturb the country Erdoğan'

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu retaliated against the president's announcement with a play on the latter's own statement that "No one has the right to disturb others at night."

"Erdoğan, if we're gonna talk about disturbances, the country is disturbed by you, what are you going to do about that?" tweeted the CHP leader on June 21. 

Kılıçdaroğlu reiterated his call for early elections, adding that the COVID-19 restrictions implemented by the government have been ideological from the start.

The CHP leader also posted a video addressing his "dear youth," urging them to set aside ideological differences to fight the president's midnight ban, calling Erdoğan a "boomer" and urging young voters to tell him "bye bye" in the next elections. 

Former deputy prime minister and Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) leader Ali Babacan also slammed the midnight music ban on Twitter, saying that "music feeds the soul."

"Doesn't one's soul ever crave to be fed?" Babacan asked. 

Former presidential candidate from the CHP Muharrem İnce also criticized the practice and said that the biggest disturbance to the country was the government's "mentality that attacks people's lifestyle."

'Epic after party for AKP'

Some members of the main opposition CHP drew criticism on social media after joking that the ban on music would be avenged after the ruling AKP lost their seat in the upcoming round of elections.

"The music ban is ideological. But we promise you, we're gonna have an epic after party after the elections," tweeted CHP member Eren Erdem on June 21. 

"Guys, don't worry. We're gonna have an after party of 80 million people. With lots of music," tweeted CHP Deputy Chair Onursal Adıgüzel. 

The main opposition members' humorous criticism of the ban was slammed by social media users on the grounds that it was not productive. 

"We're sick of your empty, safe opposition," tweeted academic Bülent Şık in response to the tweets.

"We can joke like this, but you can't. You have to do everything in your power. If your only solution is waiting for elections, that means you're not useful for anything," said the most-liked response to Erdem's "joke."