by Charlie Crooijmans
This weekend the Turkish singer and bağlama virtuoso Arif Sağ was supposed to play at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Coming to Schiphol airport he didn’t even reach the capital. At the gate this leading figure in modern Turkish folk music (67 years old) had to wait too long due to strict admission policy for non-EU citizens. He was being interrogated for a long time. After consultations with the directors of the Turkey Now! Festival and the Turkish Ambassador he was finally allowed pass the border. But as offended as he was, Sağ decided he didn’t want to enter the Netherlands at all and flew back to Istanbul.
The border procedure is especially poignant if you take into consideration that the concert was supposed to take place whitin the context of 400 years of diplomatic relations between Turkey and the Netherlands. According to Harry van Bommel from the Socialist Party (SP) Sağ has been treated like a criminal and was unfairly interrogated. He and his colleague Ahmed Marcouch of the Labour Party (PvdA) will pose parliamentary questions about the matter. The Turkish media, such as Radikal, are talking about the outrageous treatment the artist received by Holland. Unfortunately this is only one of many recent incidents (like the anti-Polish site) that gives the Netherlands a very intolerant reputation.
Here you can see the new item on Dutch television. It says that Arif Sağ already entered Holland for rehearsals a few days before and he has already been interrogated. For him as a well-known person as a musician and as a former parliamentarian, it’s an absolute shame in front of his fellow Turkish travelers.
According to outgoing Minister for Immigration and Asylum Gerd Leers, Arif Sağ has been treated correctly as he just spoke in Turkish. For private reasons he has been taken apart with an interpreter, said Leers.