Prominent theologians and political leaders have expressed fears that some circles are seeking to create provocations by exploiting religious feelings after social media footage emerged on May 20 and 21 of the protest songs “Bella Ciao” and “Yuh Yuh” playing from minarets in Izmir.
The incident was either “provocation or foolishness,” said theologian and writer Ihsan Eliacik. While musing that the intelligence services might have played the songs from the mosque loudspeakers, he said the incident would keep the ruling party in power for decades.
CHP Chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu also urged the government to find the perpetrators, adding that only the call to prayer and Turkey’s national anthem may play from mosque loudspeakers.
Izmir Mayor Tunc Soyer also condemned the incident, warning people not to fall prey to plots. Similarly, CHP Istanbul Chair Canan Kaftancioglu questioned why authorities had failed to find the perpetrators.
“If they are found, they will not be able to continue the provocation. And someone needs these provocations,” Kaftancioglu said.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, who attended a program arranged by Mamak municipality in Ankara on May 23, dubbed the incident as “immorality during holy Ramadan.” Soylu said he would find the perpetrators and force them to listen to the adhan at the foot of the mosque.
Prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into the incident, in which authorities say a central broadcasting system was hacked to play the songs. In the meantime, judicial officials launched a probe into the CHP’s former deputy head in Izmir and detained Banu Ozdemir, for sharing the videos and commenting about them. The action against Ozdemir elicited public anger at her treatment that suggested she was the perpetrator.
The incident is not the first time that songs have been broadcast from minarets. After Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring into Syria in October 2019, the Ottoman war song Mehter was broadcast in Ceylanpinar, a district of Sanliurfa that abuts the Syrian border.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not allege CHP involvement in the incident but did accuse it of wishing to see similar incidents in the future. “They dream about hearing another song instead of the adhan from the mosques’ minarets,” he said on May 22.