Going by the name Ezhel, Turkey’s popular rap artist Sercan İpekçioğlu has been targeted by media organs close to the Turkish government, who accused him of terrorist propaganda, for his words “Kurdistan’s capital is Ankara, it is Istanbul” in a Twitter chat room he attended on Friday.
Describing his feelings about the oppression of minorities living in Turkey in the past, Ezhel said that the Kurdish conflict in the country should be resolved:
“The Turkish Greeks are already gone, the Armenians are already gone. And if the Kurds leave too, my heart won’t be able to take it anymore. I defend Kurdistan and the Kurdish people, and I think the capital of Kurdistan is Ankara, it is Istanbul. I sincerely believe that somehow this issue will be resolved. I was a fascist too once. When two Kurds spoke Kurdish with each other on the bus, I used to get pissed off. Why? Because that’s how I was taught. But now I see it. Now I say ‘Why did they do this to you, Sercan? Why did they oppress these people?’ We will see good days, I believe this as much as I can. We will resolve this issue, there is no other way.”
After a number of newspapers and news websites described Ezhel’s words as “praise for terrorism” and “PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) propaganda”, Ezhel said on Twitter: “As Turks, we must learn to speak comfortably about things that touch our sore spots.”
“We do not realise that because we fear our country will be divided we are tearing it apart. We are afraid of words, languages, religions and thoughts, and we become aggressive. When we overcome these fears, peace will find us.”
In May last year, the rapper reacted against the cancellation by the authorities of concerts of the Kurdish artists Aynur Doğan and Melek Mosso, who allegedly “encourage immorality”, and he was again targeted by media outlets close to the government.
Articles targeting him described Ezhel as a “drugs offender”, referring to past cases, and claimed that the musician’s songs encourage young people to use illegal drugs.
Ezhel was sentenced to a year and eight months in prison for illegal substance use in 2019, but the court suspended the sentence.
In 2018, the rapper was accused of “inciting drug use” in his songs but contrary to the reports of the media mentioned above, he was acquitted at the first hearing of his trial.
Ezhel’s debut album Müptezhel came out in 2017. As well as rapping, Ezhel also plays the bağlama and guitar, and sings reggae.
In May 2019, the New York Times named Ezhel as one of the European pop acts that everyone should know.