Turkey blocks ‘rocking imam’ from singing in Portugal

Turkish religious authority refuses to allow musician imam Tuzer to perform at a concert hosted by Porto’s art museum.

Turkey rocking imam
Tuzer heads a mosque in the southern city of Antalya and also sings in two different bands [Courtesy of Ahmet Muhsin Tuzer]

Turkey’s religious authority has prevented a local imam, who is also a musician, from performing at a concert in the Portuguese city of Porto.

Imam Ahmet Muhsin Tuzer, who  sings for the Turkish Rock band Firock, was invited to the city by the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art to perform in early April with the band Chora(s)an Time-Court Mirage.

An official with Turkey’s Presidency of Religious Affairs confirmed to Al Jazeera on Tuesday that Tuzer’s request was rejected, adding that he will make a statement about the reasons for the decision on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Turkey’s rock ‘n’ roll imam spurs controversy

Imam Tuzer, who is also known as the “rocking imam”, told Al Jazeera: “God knows there is nothing un-Islamic about the music we were going to play. I was going to represent my country and religion in line with the religious necessities at a time Islamophobia is spreading in the Western world.” 

Chora(s)an Time-Court Mirage is led by Catherine Christer Hennix, a Swedish musician, who chose to convert to Islam in 2014.

The band’s music fuses Indian music raga, Arabic-Turkish traditional music, and Eastern African pentatonic Blues music with Turkish and Arabic hymns as well as parts of the Quran.

Financial support withdrawn

Tuzer, who heads a mosque in the southern city of Antalya, says that the Porto concert had received previous financial support from the Turkish Ministry of Culture and blessing from the religious authority.

According to the musician, the Presidency of Religious Affairs changed its position only a month before the performance  with the ministry subsequently withdrawing its support.


“Officials from the ministry had got so excited about the concert following my application. All have changed after the decision of the Presidency [of Religious Affairs],” the imam said.

“The invitation I got as a religious representative and musician from a world-famous museum is significant for Turkey and our holy religion of Islam. And I believe that it would contribute towards transforming the dark perception of Islam [in the Western world] into our religion’s true nature of peace and light,” Tuzer added.

He added that he was willing to sue Turkey’s religious authority if it did not change its position.

The Presidency of Religious Affairs previously started an investigation towards Tuzer in 2013 after his band released an album that includes two Islamic hymns. A year later, the presidency decided not to punish the imam.

In April 2014, when the investigation was ongoing, Tuzer performed with Chora(s)an Time-Court Mirage in New York.

The state-run Presidency of Religious Affairs is in charge of mosques and religious education in secular Turkey and delivers non-binding views on Islamic matters.

Follow Umut Uras on Twitter: @Um_Uras

Source: Al Jazeera