Report: Election board bans AK Party’s Nevruz ad

Turkey’s Supreme Election Board (YSK) has banned a television ad prepared by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) for the Nevruz festival because of the use of the Turkish flag and religious symbols, a news report said on Sunday. The three-minute ad was released last week to mark the Nevruz festival — a now officially recognized holiday widely celebrated in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern region of Turkey — to send a message of unity amid

Turkeyand#39s Supreme Election Board (YSK) has banned a television ad prepared by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) for the Nevruz festival because of the use of the Turkish flag and religious symbols, a news report said on Sunday.

The three-minute ad was released last week to mark the Nevruz festival — a now officially recognized holiday widely celebrated in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern region of Turkey — to send a message of unity amid efforts as part of a settlement process to resolve the decades-old Kurdish issue through talks.

But critics said it exploited national and religious values and violated election laws that prohibit the use of the national flag and religious symbols in political campaign ads.

The report on the website of the Handuumlrriyet daily said the YSK has ruled that the ad be removed from television until the images of the flag and religious symbols are removed.

The ad presents a collage of video footage from all over Turkey, including images of mosques, an Alevi sama ritual and Kaaba, the most sacred site in Islam

andldquoThe election law forbids political parties from using the flag and religious symbols in political ads and campaign materials.

The purpose of this ban is to prevent the exploitation of religious sentiments by politicians,andrdquo Mehmet Hadimi YakupoIlu, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican Peopleand#39s Party (CHP), was quoted as saying by Handuumlrriyet. andldquoThis is a universal norm, but the AK Party has taken the liberty of committing a crime,andrdquo he continued.

The AK Party had a similar trouble with the YSK in the run-up to the local elections on March 30, 2014. The YSK then halted the broadcast of another AK Party campaign ad because it featured the Turkish flag.

Then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIan angrily reacted to the YSK decision, saying andldquoThen we will ban it. We will ban the ban.

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SOURCE: Today’s Zaman