Event celebrating Prophet’s birth nearly cancelled by authorities

A shadow was cast on the week commemorating the Prophet Muhammad’s birth when the Burdur Governor’s Office attempted to block a related event held by the Burdur Egitim Gonulluleri Dernegi (Association of Burdur Education Volunteers) just two hours before it was due to begin last week.

Despite the fact that permission from the authorities had already been obtained for the event, the Burdur Governor’s Office has launched an investigation on the grounds that the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations was violated by the organizers of the event.

Independent Burdur deputy Hasan Hami Yıldırım, who resigned from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) at the end of last year, maintained that the real intention of the authorities was to remove the civil servants in the governor’s office who issued the permit for the event.

It was only possible to carry out the event at the Husnu Bayer Gymnasium in the city of Burdur last Friday after all the official documents of permission for the event had been presented. The hall was full of people waiting for the start of the program.

Necip Bedur, chair of the association, maintained that the local bureaucracy had tried, unreasonably, to cancel the event. Burdur Mayor Ali Orkun Ercengiz said such a worthy event should not be the victim of politics in Turkey.

Just two hours before the event started, officials in the hall told the event organizers that they had received a call from their superiors indicating that the event should be canceled. It was probably thanks to the fact that the hall was full of spectators that the event took place as officials must have felt that a cancellation would provoke protests from the crowd. Bedur said he had not been informed about the officials’ reason for wanting to cancel the event.

The following day, Burdur Governor Nurettin Yılmaz gave instructions for an investigation to be launched into the officials who had given permission for the event to take place and the association that had organized the event.

As part of the investigation, officials from the association gave a statement at the Burdur Police Department on Monday. Bedur, who noted that they had paid officials a fee of TL 1,500 to obtain permission for the event, said police officers had also been present in the gymnasium to maintain security. The presence of police in the gymnasium, aside from the documents obtained from the authorities, is further proof that permission for the event had been given by the authorities.