Milyon Fest, organised by a main opposition-run municipality in the southern province of Muğla, is the latest addition to a growing list of music festivals and events that have been cancelled in the last few months in Turkey.
Since April, at least 14 festivals and concerts were cancelled, demonstrating the conservative and nationalist tendencies in the country. The list includes youth festivals as well as concerts by various singers.
Milyon Fest was scheduled for 1-4 September in the Fethiye district, a popular tourist destination. The governor’s office in Muğla cited environmental concerns as the reason for the cancellation, saying crowds would disrupt the balance in the local ecosystem.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Fethiye district mayor Alim Karaca is planning to take legal action, he told daily Sözcü.
“They don’t cancel concerts of those close to (the government),” Karaca said.
News of the cancellation was met with celebration among conservative groups on social media.
“This was the 14th event that we created a public buzz over and got results,” a man who identifies himself as part of the group Defence of the Islamic Movement said in a tweet. The man called the festival “immoral”.
The man also called for action against a festival in the eastern Malatya province.
“Dear people of Malatya, it’s your turn. Call the governorate tomorrow to cancel the Malatya Fanta Festival as it is your legal right,” he said in another tweet.
Mixed company and alcohol consumption are the main reasons for Islamist and conservative groups’ objections to youth festivals, while some sects also consider singing haram.
In one instance, such groups targeted a K-pop concert organised by the Culture and Tourism Ministry, getting it cancelled for behaviour by band members they considered to be ‘promoting’ homosexuality.
Another reason events were cancelled has been disruption of public order. Some were cancelled over the death of Turkish soldiers in Iraq, while others were cancelled after intense social media campaigns.
Aynur Doğan, an internationally renowned Kurdish singer, was the target of one such campaign where hundreds accused her of ‘terrorism’. Doğan’s music, while traditional, is not explicitly political.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, meanwhile, slammed the cancellations, calling on local authorities to be faithful to the state and not the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
“I am warning the governors: Do you think you can arbitrarily ban young people from having fun and we will all bow our heads down? No way. If you continue to ban concerts, you will find millions against you,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in a tweet.