Turkish singer Gulsen arrested after religious schools quip -media

ISTANBUL, Aug 25 (Reuters) – Turkish pop star Gulsen was arrested on Thursday after an Istanbul lawyer opened an investigation into charges of “inciting people to hatred and enmity” following comments he made on stage about religious schools, local media said.

The singer-songwriter, whose full name is Gulsen Colakoglu, said on Twitter that she joked with colleagues during the April performance and apologized to anyone who was offended, and that some took her words to polarize the community.

Hurriyat newspaper and other media reported that the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation, and that the Ministry of Education condemned the comments and opened its own legal process.

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DHA news agency reported that Gulsen gave a statement to Istanbul police, was transferred to a court and later arrested.

The number of Imam Hatip religious schools has grown rapidly under President Tayyip Erdogan, whose ruling AK Party is rooted in political Islam and who has overturned decades-old restrictions on religion in the country, vexing secularists.

Critics say he has bent the courts to his will to stifle dissent and free expression, charges the government denies.

The state-run Diyanet organization, or Directorate of Religious Affairs, has seen its budget and public influence grow in recent years, with Erdogan accused of using religion to boost his ratings ahead of tight elections next year. Read on

(This story corrects Colakoglu’s surname in the second paragraph)

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Reports by Jonathan Spicer and EC Toxbey; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

Our Standards: Principles of Thomson Reuters Trust.

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