Turkish pop star jailed after a joke about religious schools in Turkey

The allegations appear to be related to a video circulating on social media from a Gulsen concert in April, when she mocked a musician.

He “graduated from Imam Hatip (religious school). That’s where his perverted side comes from,” she said.

Several Twitter users could be seen sharing the video on Thursday with hashtags calling for her arrest and saying it was offensive to associate schools with perverts.

Gulsen has denied committing any crime and is appealing her arrest, her lawyer Emek Emre said.

Following her arrest, Gulsen shared a message on her official Twitter and Instagram accounts, jokingly apologizing to “anyone who may have been offended” and saying that it had been spun by “malicious people intent on polarizing our country”.

“I joked with my colleagues, who I have worked with for many years in the business. People who aim to polarize society have published it,” she said.

“While defending the freedoms I believe in, I find myself thrown into radical extremes that I criticize. I apologize to anyone who was offended by my speech in the video,” she said.

She later said in a deposition that it was an “unfortunate joke” and told her to leave, saying she had a dependent child and would come to court or the police station, according to Anadolu.

Gulsen has previously been targeted by Turkish conservative groups for her revealing stage outfits and support for the LGBTQ community.

The Muslim-majority country is officially secular but highly polarized on issues surrounding secularism, religion, women’s rights and LGBTQ rights.

Imam Hatip schools, which teach religious studies alongside the Turkish curriculum, have grown in the two decades the conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been in power. The schools are known to train young people to become imams or preachers. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended the school, as did several members of the AKP party.

Controversy in Turkey

The arrest has drawn reactions from ordinary Turks, celebrities and even political parties.

Following her arrest, social media posts showed Gulsen’s fans singing her songs in unison in a packed soccer stadium.

Award-winning British-Turkish novelist Elif Shafak called for Gulsen’s release, as did other cultural figures.

“I deeply regret the arrest of artist @gulsen. She was targeted for bravely advocating for women’s rights, LGBT+ rights, secularism, democracy and pluralism. This is a lynching campaign. It is not legal or conscientious. Free at the same time. #gulsenserbestbırakılsın,” she said. Tweeted.

Iconic Turkish pop star Tarkan wrote on Twitter on Friday, “This injustice against Gulsen must end and Gulsen must be released immediately.”

“People who prosecute without arrest and sometimes sexually abuse children, kill women, rape women, let them go without trial, but when it comes to Gulsen, they act quickly. Our legal system ignores the corrupt. “Stealing, violating laws, slaughtering nature, killing animals, using religion as a tool for own bigoted ideas and polarizing society, arrest Gulsen in one fell swoop,” he also wrote.

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AKP members defended the arrests, with AKP spokesman Omer Celik saying “inciting hatred is not art”. In a Twitter post.

Minister of Treasury and Finance of Turkey Dr. Nuretin Nebti tweeted, “Our Imam Hatip High Schools are our prestigious institutions that raise generations equipped with our national and moral values ​​and with moral maturity. I strongly condemn this perverse language and the perverted mentality behind it, which is affecting our students studying in Imam Hatip schools. targets the youth and I find that unacceptable.”

Meanwhile, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition party described the backlash against Gulsen as a controversy aimed at “turning our youth against each other”.

“Winds of peace have been blowing for a long time between young people with different lifestyles. The aim (of the arrest) is to make a cross joke and pit our young people against each other. In power, and a lot to steal and snap,” Kemal Kilikdaroglu wrote on Twitter.

Both presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for early next summer in Turkey.



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