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Turkey arrests woman after 'hacked' mosques play WWII anti-facist song

Authorities accused the alleged hackers of 'sabotage' [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 May, 2020

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Instead of the call to prayer, mosques in Izmir played the anti-fascist anthem 'Bella Ciao', prompting authorities to launch a probe into alleged hacking of the speaker systems.

Turkish police Thursday detained a woman after the public address systems of some mosques were allegedly hijacked and blared out the World War II-era Italian anti-fascist anthem "Bella Ciao".

The government and religious officials reacted angrily to the breaking of a religious taboo - mosques are supposed to only broadcast calls to prayer or other significant religious messages - accusing unnamed individuals of "sabotage".

An unidentified woman was taken into custody, the official Anadolu news agency reported, without providing further details.

While the national religious body Diyanet filed a legal complaint and launched an internal inquiry, the Izmir prosecutor's office said it would investigate the original incident as well as social media users who posted about it.

The song, Bella Ciao, has been adopted by leftists around the world but it has no particular association with religion and it was unclear why anyone would seek to broadcast it from mosques.

Izmir is one of Turkey's secular bastions, where the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) dominates local politics.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its allies roundly criticised the stunt.

"Whoever committed this ugly act will surely be found," tweeted AKP spokesman Omer Celik.

Pro-government Sabah daily described it as a "scandal" and the Yeni Safak newspaper said it was a "vile attack" on mosques.

The coronavirus pandemic forced all mosques to close for collective prayer in March, even during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan which ends this weekend.

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