Opposition leaders, actors back pop icon Aksu in row with Erdoğan

The leaders of Turkey’s opposition party as well as actors and actresses in the country over the weekend expressed support for pop icon Sezen Aksu over a row with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over “insulting sacred values.”

The 67-year-old has received a wave of backlash from pro-government circles over a 2017 song, which contains lyrics referencing Adam and Eve. Aksu is accused of insulting the pair, considered holy according to Islamic teachings, by referring to them as “ignorant.’’

Erdoğan on Friday upped the ante in the chorus of criticism levelled at the musician, saying that it was a “duty to rip out the tongue” of anyone insulting Adam, the first Prophet according to Islamic teachings. The Turkish leader said that words belittling Eve were off limits, too, noting that those who failed to show respect to the figures must  “put in their place.”

The leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu called Erdoğan “helpless’’ for seeking to create a political agenda by attacking Aksu.

The Turkish president’s  remarks on ‘’ripping an artist's tongue out,’’ is a desperate attempt to reclaim the agenda, from which he has been absent for some time,’’ the CHP leader said on Twitter.

Over the past few week, Aksu has been subject to a criminal complaint, protests in front of her Istanbul home and a barrage of insults on social media, including from top government officials.

The leader of the centre-right opposition Good Party (İYİP) Meral Akşener on Sunday said Erdoğan was using Aksu to intimidate and silence his opponents.

The government is seeking to “intimidate everyone. This is the mindset of having understood that you are going to lose… Their aim is to create fear in citizens, opponents and voters through Sezen Aksu….’’ Akşener told Halk TV.

Aksu on Saturday hit back at Erdoğan with the lyric of a new song. “You cannot kill me. I have a voice, a saz (instrument) and words,’’ the pop icon said in a Facebook post.

“...I am everyone (in Turkey). I have been writing for 47 years after all. And I will continue to write,’’ she added.

Popular actress Beren Saat on Sunday threw her support behind Aksu, saying that she did not want to believe that an Erdoğan, who once read poetry which landed him in prison, could target the pop star over song lyrics.

“We love you, Sezen," Saat wrote on Instagram. “Silencing our beloved Sezen will not prevent us for passing on her hundreds of songs, which we know by heart, to later generations.’’ 

Nobel laureate novelist Orhan Pamuk also chimed in on the Erdoğan-Aksu row, saying the pop icon was a “great artist that the Turkish nation was proud of.’’

“Millions are with Sezen Aksu today. We will not be a state and nation that crushes its artists,’’ Pamuk told T24 news site. 

Veteran theatre actor Genco Erkal said that Aksu’s response had effectively "eliminated the presidential palace.’’ 

"The power of art has always been the greatest fear of governments,’’ Erkal said in a Twitter post. 

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