ISTANBUL // Turkey has chosen a young Jewish singer to represent the country at the Eurovision Song Contest this year, triggering criticism from both fellow musicians and Islamist circles and fanning a broader debate: Do you have to be a Muslim to be a "real" Turk?
Can Bonomo, 24, a singer from the city of Izmir, was little-known when TRT, Turkey's state television, picked him this month as the country's entry for the contest.
The yearly event is watched by tens of millions of people around Europe and beyond. The 57th edition will take place in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, in May.
Bonomo, who released his first album of alternative pop music less than year ago, said he did not expect TRT to select him.
"Eurovision is really a big deal in Turkey," he said earlier this week. "Usually TRT picks much more experienced musicians," he added. "So that was the surprise."
Since TRT announced its decision on January 11, the discussion about Bonomo's selection has been overshadowed by a debate about his religion. "A Jew will represent Turkey," the Islamist news website Habervaktim reported. The website also said some video clips of the artist were alleged to have shown symbols of Free Masons. Bonomo has been confronted with questions about his religion in television interviews. In one interview on the Haberturk channel, for example, he was asked to respond to allegations that he was nominated to curry favoured with the "Israeli lobby"...Actually, he's not half bad:
(Question: Is Bonomo his real name, or did he pick it in homage to an American brand of candy?)
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