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article imageTurkish celebrities join protests Special

By Lonna Lisa Williams     Jun 4, 2013 in World
Istanbul - A week after protests began in Istanbul over Gezi Park, Turkish celebrities are adding their voices to those demanding more freedom in Turkey.
One of the top television shows in Turkey is about the Ottoman sultans and their women. Called The Magnificent Century (Muhteşem Yüzyıl)," this popular series highlights the life of 16th-century Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and his famous Russian-born wife Hürrem Sultan. The star of the show, Halit Ergenç (who plays the Sultan) led his television cast and crew in the Gezi Park freedom protests on Monday, June 3.
Ironically, protesters have compared Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to a sultan, putting his picture in a sultan's clothes with the caption "We will not bow to you" on signs they carry.
"The only way to solve this issue is to quit this attitude of 'I did so, so it is done,' and instead listen to what these people want, and to form a democratic platform through which these wishes can be heard. Please end this violence, and start to listen, and to understand," Ergenç issued a statement to Erdogan who has refused to listen to the protesters, calling them a "handful of looters" who are "arm-in-arm with terrorists."
Internationally known Turkish pop star Tarkan also voiced his support for the protesters, as did several other famous musicians such as Can Bonomo who were seen in Taksim during the protests (Bonomo represented Turkey in the 2012 Eurovision singing contest).
Other world celebrities such as singer Madonna and actress Tilda Swinton have added their support for freedom in Turkey. But it is not always safe for a Turkish celebrity to speak out. A famous Turkish composer and pianist, Fazil Say, was convicted of blasphemy for insulting religion in his tweets.
Even as Prime Minister Erdogan looks into "foreign ties" to the protesters and maintains his unbending stance against their concerns, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç issued an apology to injured protesters (hundreds have been injured by police brutality, and two young men have died). He also put a limit on police use of tear gas except for "self-defense."
Further protests are planned for June 4, including a labor union strike in which workers are asked to dress in black to show their solidarity with freedom-seeking protesters. Worried about violent police reaction to protesters, Antalya (in southern Turkey) has refused to grant city water access for police to use as water canons.
Erdogan seems unworried about events as he meets with officials in Morocco.
"Be calm. These will all pass," the Turkish Prime Minister stated. He also issued a warning: "We will settle accounts."
The Turkish people and their celebrities are still hoping their voices will be heard, and that they will not join the many journalists, writers, academics, ex-army officers, and even musicians who have been put in prison for voicing their disagreements with Erdogan. Turkish television may not cover the protests, but Facebook and Twitter cannot be silenced.
"We will not stop protesting," one Turkish man told me. "We are Turks."
Turkish composer and pianist Fazil Say was convicted of blasphemy for speaking out against Erdogan
Turkish composer and pianist Fazil Say was convicted of blasphemy for speaking out against Erdogan
Fazil Say
The cast of  The Magnificent Century  (Muhteşem Yüzyıl)
The cast of "The Magnificent Century" (Muhteşem Yüzyıl)
Muhteşem Yüzyıl Facebook
More about Turkey, Istanbul, occupy taksim, gezi park, Protests
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