Street musicians perform their music every day in one of Istanbul’s most famous touristic spots of Istiklal Street. These musicians make their livelihoods by performing different ethnic music and singing in Turkish, Arabic, Iranian and Kurdish.
However, there are prejudicial and aggressive approaches by Turkish police officers towards the street musicians particularly those who are playing Kurdish music, reported Mesopotamia Agency (MA).
Speaking to MA, Mehmet Yüksel who has been performing Kurdish songs on the Istiklal Street for four years, claimed they face racist police harassment simply because of singing in Kurdish and playing Kurdish music.
Explaining that they make their livelihoods by performing music on the street, Yüksel said ”The economy and this harassment has affected us a lot.”
Yüksel continued: ”We are facing a lot of pressure because of the council officials and the police officers. So we don’t have a place to perform music. Also, because we make music in Kurdish, we do not have permission anywhere. When we make Kurdish music, they automatically think we are doing something wrong, so the police and state officials are constantly stopping our performances. Some of our friends have also been subjected to physical violence.”
Ahmet Naifoğlu, who has been working as a street performer for three years, said that there is an intolerance towards Kurdish. ”They prohibit us, nor give us a specific time and place to perform. We are making music while running from the cops at the same time, because when they see us, they fine us,” he said.
Another street musician Faruk Ürün told MA that the police confiscate the band’s musical instruments. “I come here to make music, they stop me and confiscate my guitar. They take me to the police station and fine me. So we have been struggling a lot and getting into trouble.”