Sometimes we all need to hit the road alone if we believe it is time for us to put a dot or comma to time. Famous Turkish composer Fazıl Say was on the headlines yesterday. He said; "The Islamists have won. We are about 30 percent, while they are about 70 percent. I am thinking about moving elsewhere. Our dreams are somewhat dead in Turkiye. All ministers' wives wear headscarf."
He was chosen to be a "European ambassador for intercultural dialogue" in May this year as part of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008, along with other figures considered to have left a mark on European art and culture.
Minister Günay responded the statement of the composer made in an interview with the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung as; "Fazil Say is a valuable musician. He has created great works. There is absolutely no reason to be concerned about Turkey's future. Turkiye is moving forward in every sphere. We are achieving some great things. We need to be more tolerant" and stated that he did not think it was right to engage in polemical conversations about politics with artists.
I wonder how Mr Minister decided "we are achieving some great things" and what are the issues "we need to be more tolerant". And I would like to ask, why it may not be right to "engage in polemical conversations with artists".
You can read Fazıl Say's bio and works from his official web; http://www.fazilsay.net/bio.php
Fazil Say wrote the work Black Hymns at the age of sixteen. My favorite work of him; his oratorio Nazim, based on poems by the famous Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet and commissioned by the Turkish Ministry of Culture, was premiered in Ankara in 2001. His other great oratorio "Requiem for Metin Altiok" was premiered in 2003 at the Istanbul Festival before an audience of 5000 and censored by the government.
Censorship is the reason behind Say's statements. Though he represents the European musical culture, he never give up the Anatolian folk culture. Beginning as; "I am against Turkiye slipping into the darkness of middle ages", he claimed during "Requiem for Metin Altıok" he faced the censorship of Culture Ministry; "I am waiting for the dialogue of the counter part for six years. There are some things that annoy me. Turkey's music lover characteristic is being destroyed." In his press release he changed the words about "leaving the country" to "we will not surrender".
I think he did good and just in time, with the sensitiveness of an artist. Just yesterday all country heard the words of the head of High Educational Committee, thanks to a mistake, a microphone left open. He was saying, both PM and President warned him not to talk so open and much about the headscarf or "They would hang us".
If I have to explain "they" in this sentence means us, seculars while "us" they feared to be hanged mean "them, islamists, one who use religion for politics etc".
Conservatism may be a local and global trend. I may not believe that Turkiye will ever become an Islamic country yet. Still it is a fact that the wives of the majority of the ministers are covering their heads. It is a fact that there are nearly 120,000 students at the Imam Hatip (theological) high schools. It is a fact that they are taking over the constitutional institutions one by one and giving in the hands of islamists.
Soon, girls wearing turbans may be allowed into universities and and state institutions. We may better prepare ourselves waiting our turn for headscarved physicians instead of a good male one or entrust our children to such teachers or even have to make our daughters close their heads from the early ages. Certainly these are their dreams and Turkish people would never let it happen. Problem is not the piece of cloth on their heads but what is IN their heads.
Let's see why Fazıl Say censored? Who was Metin Altıok he needed to compose a requiem for? Which event lies behind all?
Metin Altıok (b 1941- Izmir) was a philosophy teacher and poet. He was a member of Turkish Workers Party and columnist. He was one of the 37 intellectuals, writers, ashiks, poets, Alevis BURNED to death by radical islamist during the "Sivas Massacre".
On July 2 1993 during Sivas Pir Sultan Abdal Festival, after the celebration radical Islamists walked to Madimak hotel where the Alevis lodged after the festival, shouting for death of infidels. The Madimak hotel was pelted with stones for hours after the hotel was set on fire. The fire was erased after two hours.
Truths behind the incident have never been fully revealed. But the arrest and trial of dozens of Islamic terrorists did not dissuade more extremists from continuing to attack Turkish intellectuals fighting for the democracy, secular state and values. Aziz Nesin, one of Turkey's leading literary figures, was the main individual target of the fundamentalists. He was accused of intending to publish Salman Rushdie's "Satanic Verses." Aziz Nesin and many guests succeeded to escape from the murder. Poet Metin Altıok was between the 37 death.
Fazıl Say didn't compose the Requiem especially for "Sivas Massacre" but Metin Altıok, his life and poems. First ten parts of the requiem are all bout the poets life and poems. Only the last part was about the Sivas massacre and Madimak burning. The slide show was containing the photos from the fire, burned bodies and Metin Altiok at death bed while he was still in coma.
It is not hard to guess why this (or previous) government of ruling AKP put cencorships to any activities or art events mentioning any actions, murders of radical Islamists. What they don't think is; it is not possible to erase the history.
People still reading the poems of Metin Altiok, politic- humor stories of Aziz Nesin as they will listen Fazıl Say long after many goverments come and go. Children are laughing at the Aziz Nesin Foundation. He left nothing to his own children other than his memory but all to children of Turkiye by his foundation. He is listening their laughter from the unknown part of the garden he was buried.
Children are singing Nazim Hikmet poems with Fazıl Say. Not only Turkiye but the whole world is listening them. AKP government and their supporters can close their ears but children voices are telling all the stories.
Well, do some still think only danger is terror or terror is only from PKK? Come on, try to compare the religious terror criminals and PKK members who benefit from the past amnesty laws. "Irtica", religious fundamentalism had been the danger number one for this state from the beginning.
If you ask "why", have a look at the religious tendencies between Turkiye's various populations including Kurds too.
In one of his poems Metin Altıok says;
I had a voice;
Far off now
Might be it rings
Under a bridge somewhere.
I’ve taken losses
Alongside of my gains.
I had a heart;
Far off now
Might be it beats
In a child’s room somewhere.
I’ve taken losses
Alongside of my gains.
There’s just me now
Left to be close to me.
Was the kind, though,
To hit the road alone.