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Hackney Empire cancels show led by ‘divisive’ member of Turkish parliament

PUBLISHED: 13:00 04 April 2019

The beacon at the top of the Hackney Empire

The beacon at the top of the Hackney Empire

Archant

The Hackney Empire cancelled a concert the day before it was to be played after its lead performer – a member of the Turkish parliament – was judged to represent divisive values.

The show Siir Turku Turkiye, led by Uğur Işılak, was scheduled for March 26 before the theatre pulled the plug 24 hours prior.

In addition to being a musician, Uğur Işılak is member of the Turkish parliament where he sits for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The party has been accused of discrimination against Turkey’s Kurdish population.

Uğur Işılak has made previous comments claiming “women are the slaves of men” and that the USA and EU are responsible for the recent terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Hackney Empire commented: “We believe in balanced, open dialogue but we cannot knowingly allow the possibility of what we platform to offend or distress our communities without viable recourse.

“We therefore feel that it is the right decision to cancel this performance.”

The cancellation of the show was met with a mixed response in Hackney.

Complaints were raised by those looking forward to the concert, with one person saying he “will not rest” until the full reasons behind the cancellation are explained.

Others meanwhile praised Hackney Empire for making the “right decision” in standing against values that discriminate the borough’s large Kurdish population.

The cancellation of the show has attracted national media coverage in Turkey.

In December, Kurdish activists at Manor House undertook hunger strikes to protest against the AKP and its imprisonment of opposition politicians.


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