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Turkish artists protest demolishing historic movie theatre in Istanbul

(Xinhua)

11:11, December 25, 2011

People hold banners while demonstrating on the Istiklal street of Istanbul, Turkey, on Dec. 24, 2011 . About 1,000 Turkish artists, writers and film makers staged a protest against the demolishing of a 127-year-old movie theatre (Emek (Labor) Movie Theatre) in Istanbul's famous Istiklal avenue on Dec. 24, 2011. (Xinhua/Ma Yan)

ISTANBUL, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) -- About 1,000 Turkish artists, writers and film makers staged a protest against the demolishing of a 127-year-old movie theatre in Istanbul's famous Istiklal avenue on Saturday.

The 12-hour protest against the demolishing of Emek (Labor) Movie Theatre was organized by the Turkish Film Critics Association as part of the efforts by the Turkish people to protect the ancient culture and history of the country.

The protesters, movie stars, directors, artists, writers, intellectuals, musicians and members of civil organizations, sang songs and shouted slogans such as "Cinema is love, protect your love", "Art wants Emek", "Emek is ours, Istanbul is ours", and "We will not let Emek be demolished".

They also waved banners criticizing Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government for paying little attention to the historical buildings and ancient culture.

As one of the last few remaining independent movie theaters in Turkey, Emek Movie Theatre, which has hosted the Istanbul International Film Festival for over 23 years, was closed in April 2010.

Built in 1884 and opened in 1924, the movie theatre is the oldest in the Turkish history. It was re-named Emek Sinemasi in 1958 following renovations.

The Turkish government recently privatized the historical building and sold it to an investment group, which plans to demolish the building and build a new shopping mall with a new movie theater inside.

The plan triggered public outrage and drew reaction from scores of international film critics who viewed films at the cinema during the Istanbul film festivals.

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