Controversial nationalist actor appointed to lead State theaters in Turkey
The appointment of nationalist actor Tamer Karadagli as the General Director of State Theatres in Turkey has stirred a whirlwind of debates and discussions within the country's artistic and political circles.
His recent interactions with fellow actors, marked by nationalist rhetoric and overt political alignment, have thrust him into the spotlight, prompting questions about the boundaries of artistic expression, the role of public figures, and the influence of political ideologies in the realm of arts and culture.
The criticsm began when Karadagli exhibited a series of behaviors towards actress Nihal Yalcin, who was receiving an award at the prestigious Golden Orange Film Festival during an awards ceremony, leading to a subsequent public outcry and debates over nationalism, free speech, and artistic expression. Karadagli’s actions were interpreted by many as a form of protest against Yalcin, who was defending women’s rights in her speech.
Karadagli, who talked to Turkey’s TV8 after the reactions, tried to associate the events with "terrorism"
"Pervin Buldan (pro-Kurdish HDP’s Co-Chair) supports her (Nihal Yalcin), Canan Kaftancioglu (CHP’s Istanbul provincial Chair) supports her. I am completely against the terrorist organization that points guns at the Turkish army, the Turkish soldier, shoots at them, kills police officers and teachers... I am a person who believes that the PKK is a terrorist organization. Now I have to go and ask them, do you believe that the PKK is a terrorist organization? Can you say that Abdullah Öcalan is a baby killer, do you condemn him? What I learned yesterday was 'This is already a political festival, we are here to make these speeches', how so? What I was told is that this festival has nothing to do with art, it's all political..."
Karadagli had also said he was influenced by President Tayyip Erdogan, and endorsed his conservative stance. Karadagli's subsequent support for an anti-LGBTI+ rally further fueled the controversy. His involvement in the rally, organized by certain religious groups, raised concerns about his alignment with specific ideologies and his impact on the arts community.
Karadagli's actions and statements did not stop there. He continued to attract attention by targeting another award-winning actress, Merve Dizdar, during the 76th Cannes Film Festival. He criticized Dizdar for receiving an award and subsequently expressing dissatisfaction with her country, particularly in light of her popularity in Turkey's entertainment industry.