Turkey jails politician for sharing videos of 'hacked' mosques playing anti-facist Bella Ciao song

Turkey jails politician for sharing videos of 'hacked' mosques playing anti-facist Bella Ciao song
An opposition politician in Turkey has been detained by authorities for sharing a video that showed the moment mosques blared an Italian anti-fascist song, reports confirmed.
3 min read
23 May, 2020
Mosques have been closed to stem the spread of the coronavirus [Getty]
Authorities in Turkey’s western city of Izmir have detained an opposition politician after she shared videos of an Italian anti-fascist song being blared out of mosques’ loudspeakers instead of the call to prayer, the country’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported Friday.

Banu Ozdemir, the main opposition party’s former deputy chairwoman for Izmir, was detained late on Thursday on suspicion of “provoking public enmity” by sharing videos of the incident, which saw the Turkish version of the song “Bella Ciao” broadcast for a few minutes from several mosques in Izmir earlier this week.

The incident, which occurred during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, caused outrage in the country.
Ozdemir has denied any disrespect to religious values and said that she shared the videos because she wanted to draw attention to the incident.

Authorities say the system that broadcasts the calls to prayer in mosques in Izmir was “sabotaged” and are investigating who was behind the act.

While the national religious body Diyanet filed a legal complaint and launched an internal inquiry, the Izmir prosecutor's office said it would investigate the original incident as well as social media users who posted about it.
The song, used by Italian left-wing partisans during World War II, is popular among left-wing groups in Turkey and is frequently played at their gatherings.

Izmir is one of Turkey's secular bastions, where the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) dominates local politics.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its allies roundly criticised the stunt.

"Whoever committed this ugly act will surely be found," tweeted AKP spokesman Omer Celik.

Pro-government Sabah daily described it as a "scandal" and the Yeni Safak newspaper said it was a "vile attack" on mosques.


The coronavirus pandemic forced all mosques to close for collective prayer in March, even during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan which ends this weekend.

On Wednesday, Turkey declared "Mission Accomplished" in the country's battle against the novel coronavirus, according to an official, days after recording its lowest daily death rate since March.

Sharing an op-ed he penned for The Washington Times about Turkey's healthcare infrastructure, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's communications director, Fahrettin Altun, stated the country's outbreak has been "contained".

Turkey has instituted partial lockdowns to combat Covid-19.

Older adults above 65, as well as those aged 20 and under were not allowed to leave their homes until recently. 

Ankara has eased other measures, including the opening of shopping centres and hair salons.

In an effort to contain the outbreak, Turkey this month deployed nearly 6,000 teams of "tracers" - all health professionals - to track potential Covid-19 cases 24 hours a day by identifying and following up with people who have had contact with patients.

Unlike other countries, Turkey has not suffered a shortage of respirators or masks.

Ankara has been playing the diplomatic card on medical aid since the start of the crisis, sending military planes full of equipment to other countries.

However, a shipment of over 80 tonnes of personal protective equipment from Turkey to the UK has been impounded earlier this month after failing to meet the safety standards - something denied by Turkey.

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