Art, intellectuals and Erdogan

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Art, intellectuals and Erdogan

2016-06-16 08:56 BST
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Francis Ghilès in Financial Times claims Turkey’s president does not look kindly on artists or intellectuals.

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave a dinner in honor of the Nobel laureate biochemist Aziz Sancar on 15 December 2015.

On 13 June 2016, senior research fellow at the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs, Francis Ghilès, had a letter published in the Financial Times about Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his stance on art and intellectuals. He wrote:

“Mr Erdogan does not seem to look kindly on artists or intellectuals. He is unlikely to entertain his foreign guests with the great Turkish artists of today.”1

Contrary to what Ghiles implies, Erdogan has often encouraged artists and intellectuals.

For example, Erdogan welcomed prominent Turkish historians on 7 May 2015.2

On 12 June 2015, Erdogan had organized an iftar meal with prestigious artists and sports people in Huber manor in Istanbul.3 Famous theatre player Hasan Kacan, pop singer Zerrin Ozer and poet Ibrahim Sadri were among the attendants.

On 21 January 2016, Erdogan met with academics to discuss increasing terror attacks and democratic issues in Turkey.4

On 2 April 2016, Erdogan met with the Turkish-American biochemist Aziz Sancar, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2015, and US Opinion Leaders.5

Another Turkish best-selling novelist and philosopher, Alev Alatli, is known for being Erdogan’s close friend and supporter. Addressing the president at the Turkish Presidential Awards Ceremony, the 70-year-old prominent philosopher and columnist said, "History will mark you [Erdogan] for embracing 1.5 million Syrian refugees." Alatli also said: "If George Orwell were alive today, he would have strongly applauded you. That would not have been enough, Daniel Defoe would have also gotten to his feet and done the same."6

At the end of 2015, Turkish-Armenian prominent photojournalist Ara Guler (also known as “the eye of Istanbul”) requested to take the President's photograph. Guler was welcomed by Erdogan in his house and took the president and his family’s photographs.7