Off the curfew, but in silence. In Turkey that is racing towards a return to normalcy, lifting all the main anti-Covid restrictions from July 1st, there is at least one thing that will no longer be the same: music. By announcing the cancellation of nighttime restrictions and Sunday confinements – a coveted mouth of oxygen also for tourism, still far from a real restart -, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has launched a new gauntlet to secular and liberal youth. “Do not be offended, but no one has the right to disturb others at night”, the Turkish president said, illustrating the decision to close the concert halls at midnight and the interruption of music in the clubs. An unjustified measure with fears of gatherings or activities considered at risk.
The raising of shields on social media was immediately unleashed, where many users accused the executive of exploiting the pandemic to punish the lifestyles that it does not approve and of those who do not vote for it. “We are offended” ( kusurabakiyoruz), is the hashtag that has gone viral in these hours, overturning the words of the head of state, with tens of thousands of shares. A protest fueled by the reaction of some of the most famous Turkish singers. “If the music bothers you, don’t listen to it,” tweeted Gaye Su Akyol, addressing Erdogan directly, while someone underlined the muezzin’s calls to Islamic prayer in the middle of the night. Puzzled reactions have also come from famously pro-government artists, such as pop singer Demet Akalin. And the first protests in presence have already sprung up, with the mini-concert of a rapper stopped in the night by the police in the secular stronghold of Kadikoy, on the Asian side of Istanbul.
On the barricades there is inevitably also the business world, which after almost a year and a half of stop awaiting the lifting of the curfew to revive the premises and recover part of the losses. And while the compact opposition accuses Erdogan of “not fighting the coronavirus, but the lifestyles of others”, the presidential spokesman replies by speaking of “ideological manipulation”. Many fear that this is only a first step. At stake, the opposition still accuses, there is much more than just the time to turn off the music. The limitations affecting concerts today could extend to the sale of alcohol tomorrow, as already happened during the long lockdown in May in the middle of Ramadan, with a push and pull on the ban on buying alcohol in supermarkets, which seemed to have little to do with the circulation of the virus.
In the background is an increasingly heated battle over consensus, as polls signal growing difficulties for Erdogan and his ultra-nationalist allies of the MHP, heirs of the gray wolves. If GDP is recovering after the pandemic crisis, the Turkish economy remains fragile and the wealth of citizens is constantly falling due to inflation, steadily above 15%, and the heavy devaluation of the lira. The game for Erdogan moves back to ideology, in search of the more conservative vote, already tickled in the war of symbols by the recent inauguration of the mosque in the republican temple in Taksim square.