My friend had an invitation and so we attended the Istanbul Music Festival’s opening concert together. Plaques were handed out to this year’s festival sponsors at the pre-concert awards ceremony, and like a coincidence, the first person to be called on stage was a headscarf-clad woman from the Istanbul Municipality. I can’t speak for the entirety of the Lütfi Kırdar audience, but the lackluster clapping and outward criticism in the line of ‘great, did they seep their way in here as well?’ from the people around me, profoundly shocked me.
Dear lovers of classic music, why are we like this? What happened to the universality of music? To its tolerance, love, and blindness to language, religion, and race? What does the rampant applause for the next non-headscarf-wearing person to go on stage (representing the Beşiktaş Municipality, if I’m not mistaken) really mean? What is this message we can’t resist but to emit? What’s the reason for this discrimination for particular persons who support classic music? We don’t mind when the woman who comes to clean our home, who services us at the supermarket cash register, or who brings our tea in the office wears a headscarf, but when she supports classic music we suddenly have issues? Why is it so difficult for us to accept that the barriers we have drawn for the life and fate of this woman are only in our own minds? More than a woman’s right, where is the human right?
Maybe you’ll say that ‘they’ do the same thing to us. To accept the guilt you’ll want to partition it. Alright, let’s continue on this path then. Eye for an eye. With the same perspective and procedures we’ve been insisting upon for years. Let’s give the other side that same violence we’ve received from the people we didn’t like or scorned or the things we’ve only seen worthy of us and people ‘like us.’ Especially when the ‘other’ side supports the same thing we do.
If we don’t see a problem cultivating violence with violence, then what does it matter what side we’re on? As the audience of a music festival opening concert we might have knowledge of music. But how distressing to know that we’ve failed in the matter of human rights.