It's tough being a metalhead in North America. Sometimes we are reduced to sheepishly explaining our love for the loud stuff to co-workers and turning it down around significant others. But, man, it's really tough being a metalhead in Turkey.
According to the Irish Times [via Blabbermouth], Turkish metal dude Yusuf Sengul was attending the first day of a metal festival with some pals when a cavalcade passed by them. Sengul, loyal metalhead that he is, flashed the infamous devil-horn sign with his hand at the passing vehicles. Seems like a logical thing to do, right? Not in Turkey.
"The tinted windows of one of the cars opened and a guy in dark glasses shouted, 'What the hell are you doing?'" Sengul told the Irish Times.
Cut to a few minutes later and the men in the vehicles were back, with police in tow, and took Sengul, apparently a fan of German thrash metal band Kreator, and his buddies to a police station, by orders of the Prime Minister.
"We were laughing," said Sengul. "We thought it was a joke." However, the powers that be didn't, as they made Sengul and his pals spend the night being transferred from one police station to another. The crime? "Disrespect of a senior official." The most irrational part of the punishment? Making Sengul and company listen to classical Turkish music and pop, says the Times. (We're not making this up.)
"I unfortunately saw the state of some of our young people, and it was depressing," the Prime Minister in question, Tayyip Erdogan, said to the media the day after. "This endless, uncontrolled moral erosion is really worrying. We must defend our family structure."
Erdogan "is well-known for his outbursts of intolerance," says the Times.
What is the history of the devil horns? We're glad you asked. Gene Simmons of Kiss would love to take the credit (and the copyright) but nowadays it is commonly traced back to wee wizard and Heaven and Hell front-man Ronnie James Dio. However, some say that underdog '70s proto-metallers Coven may indeed have been the first to throw the horns.
In recent years, the horns have been sadly misrepresented in the mainstream and drenched in unwanted and inappropriate irony by indie rockers. The devil horns are best thrown when alone and cranking up some particularly bitchin' metal, or when three sheets to the wind at a metal show with your long-haired brethren. Or, I guess, in a Turkish prison.