Ankara, Turkey – Turkish pop star Gulsen has been arrested for “inciting hatred and enmity” by joking about Turkish religious schools, the country’s state-run news agency reported.
The 46-year-old singer and songwriter, whose full name is Gulsen Kolakoglu, was taken from her home in Istanbul for questioning and formally arrested late Thursday. He was then taken to jail for trial.
The arrest caused an uproar on social media. Critics of the government said the move was an attempt by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to advance support from his religious and conservative. ElectionS in 10 months.
The allegations were based on a joke Gulsen made during a concert in Istanbul in April, where she quipped that the “perversion” of one of her musicians stemmed from attending a religious school. A video of the singer’s remarks recently started circulating on social media, with the hashtag calling for her to be arrested.
Gulsen – who had previously become a target in Islamic circles for her stage outfits and hoisting the LGBTQ flag at a concert – apologized for the offense caused by the joke, but said her comments were intended to deepen polarization in the country. was confiscated by those interested.
During questioning by court officials, Gulsen dismissed allegations that he incited hatred and animosity, and said he had “endless respect for the values and sensibility of my country”, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
His request for release from custody was rejected till the outcome of the trial.
The leader of Turkey’s main opposition party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, called on Turkish judges and prosecutors to release Gulsen.
“Do not betray the law and justice; Release the artist now!” he wrote on Twitter.
A spokesman for Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, known by the Turkish abbreviation AKP, however, appeared to defend the decision to arrest the singer, saying that “inciting hatred is not an art form”. Is.”
“Targeting a section of society with an allegation of “distortion” and trying to polarize Turkey is a hate crime and an insult to humanity,” AKP spokesman Omar Selic tweeted.
Erdogan and many members of his Islam-based ruling party are graduates of religious schools, which were originally established to train imams. The number of religious schools in Turkey increased under Erdogan, who promised to raise the “holy generation”.
Among those calling for Gulsen’s release was Turkish pop star Tarkan, known internationally for the song “Kiss Kiss”.
“Our legal system, which turns a blind eye to corruption, thieves, law breakers and genocides of nature, who kill animals and who use religion to polarize society through their fanatical views – has arrested Gulsen in a jiffy,” Tarakan said in a statement posted on Twitter.