Turkish culture and arts scene has been polarized due to political reasons lately in Turkey. While some actors, singers, musicians, TV personalities have attended the receptions held by President Erdoğan, and then received job offers, some other artists have been suffering what some call “the consequences” of criticism. Prominent Turkish actor Tamer Karadağlı has given an interview to Millet Daily and gave the title “we live in fear of Erdoğan!”
During the Gezi Park protests in June 2013, many artists had joined in with the protesters to stand up against injustices and to support rights and liberties. However, they were targeted by the fanatical supporters of the government and -then Prime Minister- Erdoğan. They had been likened to “palace-fools of the old regime” and coincidentally many of them came to learn termination of their contracts. As an excessive majority of the Turkish media sector belongs to pro-government holding conglomerations, most media bosses find it hard to employ critical staff, thus many journalists, artists, TV presenters find themselves looking for jobs.
In his interview, Karadağlı explained the situation in arts circles. He says that there is a general fear in society, which is also present in the arts sector. “Most artists refrain from expressing their opinion in the fear of losing their job, not being able to get a role in any film, or TV” continues Karadağlı. He states that he is no exception to this fear which seems to be the strongest wind in the country in the past decade. Actor also explains the labeling and prejudices about fear that some people say “no one would be afraid without a reason”, yet he answers such shallow logic by stating the obvious that anything depends on a word that comes out of “Mr. President”s mouth.
The prominent actor says he is afraid of no one except for God, however adds that he is extremely worried for the future of his child. He explains if even the artist is unable to name his concerns, let alone arts there is no liberty in this country. He also gives an example referring to a recent incident where President Erdoğan criticizes the tattoos of a football player in the national team, advices the young player to get it erased, and how in the aftermath of this incident any concerned citizen started hiding their tattoos. Karadağlı says “when Mr. President says something is bad, everyone must agree with him. There is one man and that person has the right to speak. All else, the cabinet, ministers, officers, etc. are all a shadow. Whatever the President wants becomes the legacy. Can anyone in his circles ever oppose to his decisions?”
The actor continues his speech likening Turkey to the Soviet Russia of 1950s. He adds, “even couples do not trust eachother any longer in extreme paranoia. Husband looks at wife thinking if she is wiretapped.”
The final part of the interview however has a great change of tone with regards to the concerns of the actor. Karadağlı ends the interview sympathizing the President and accusing the opposition of not being able to form better political agenda. He also adds that the Gezi Park was home to environmentalist activists whom he has also supported, but there were many people with other agendas that he did not agree.