Turkish pop star Matiz is under investigation for terrorism after he threw a single stack of dollar bills in the air in a music video.
A Turkish pop star is under investigation for allegedly being involved with a terrorist organization after he released a video featuring him throwing a stack of single dollar bills in the air. Turkish police say during the attempted overthrow of Turkey’s government two years ago, FETÖ members used single dollar bills to help identify each other. Mabel Matiz denied any involvement with Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), the organization responsible for Turkey’s failed coup in 2016, when giving evidence to government prosecutors.
With over 68 million views on YouTube alone, Matiz’s song Ya Bu Isler Ne video reached the top of Turkey’s charts this summer, but the controversy started when an anonymous source tipped of Istanbul’s Public Prosecutor’s Office by filing a complaint against the singer. According to local paper Hurriyet Daily News, the idea to feature dollar bills wasn’t the pop star’s: “Matiz told the prosecutors that the music video was the work of the producer and he did not edit the video but the producer did.”
Social media users have been quick to point out the absurdity of the charges, reminding people it’s customary at Turkish weddings to make it rain by showering the bride and groom in fake U.S. bank notes, steaming from an old traditional way of tipping the wedding band. Four years ago, an American on İncirlik Air Base caused controversy when he complained online how the counterfeit currency was being mistaken for real tender, despite having geçersizdir (invalid) clearly printed on one side.
Despite the other cultural significance, Turkish authorities have been hot on the heels of anyone suspected of using the money as a secret sign of a political affiliation. According to government sources, since the coup at least 445,000 people have been investigated over links to the movement. News site Turkey Purge even lists how prominent writers and journalists have been detained for possessing a solitary bill: “Law enforcement used one-dollar bills to jail many people including columnist and Professor Mehmet Altan. The American journalist Lindsey Snell said in August 2016 that her husband was also detained for possessing $1 bills at their apartment in Istanbul.”