Monday, July 16, 2007

Or, Turkeyness

The FLUBA Committee on Annoying Music sympathizes, but as a practical matter, would there be enough cell space to incarcerate all the deserving groups:

ISTANBUL, Turkey -- All the song does is lash out against Turkey's equivalent of the SAT, the exam that all Turkish high-schoolers must pass to have a shot at getting into college. High-schoolers the world over may sympathize, but to Turkish prosecutors it's an insult to the state and its employees.

....Gathered in a cramped Istanbul recording studio, the Deli musicians don't look like stereotypical punks -- no spiked hair, lip studs or drugs. They're in their early 20s, polite, mild-mannered and irreverent. And all passed the university exam. Vocalist Cengiz Sari is studying to become an art teacher. Bass guitarist Enis Coban studied textile manufacturing.

If convicted, they face up to 18 months in jail, although they could get off with a fine or a warning.

Turkey, which seeks European Union membership, retains strict limits on expression. Several intellectuals, notably Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk and Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, were prosecuted on charges of "insulting Turkishness" for comments on mass killings of Armenians a century ago. Dink was subsequently assassinated, and 14 suspects are on trial.

....The punk song is called "OSYM," the Turkish acronym for The Student Selection and Placement Center. That's the state institution that decides which students go to college, based on a three-hour multiple-choice exam held every June.

...."Life should not be a prison because of an exam," go the lyrics of "OSYM." "I have gotten lost/ You have ruined my future/ I am going to tell you one thing:/ Shove that exam ... "

Mild stuff by the standards of Western popular culture, but according to Turkish media it prompted Unal Yarimagan, the professor who chairs the university placement system, to seek legal advice, and the matter was referred to state prosecutors.

"We opened the case and now it is in the hands of justice," state prosecutor Kursat Kayral said.

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