Turkish pop star Gulesen arrested for pranking religious schools

The arrest of the Turkish pop star over her mockery of religious schools was met with a harsh response from critics of the government who see it as bent on punishing those who oppose her conservative views.

Pop singer Julsen was imprisoned on Thursday pending trial for inciting hatred after a pro-government media outlet aired a video of a remark she made on stage in April.

Turkish pop singer Gulesen was imprisoned on Thursday pending trial on charges of inciting hatred.
Turkish pop singer Gulesen was imprisoned on Thursday pending trial on charges of inciting hatred.
Debo Images via Reuters

He studied at the (school) of Imam Al-Khatib previously. This is where his perversion comes from,” Goulsen said in a tepid manner in the video, referring to a musician in her band.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoganwhose Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party first came to power about 20 years ago, himself studied at one of the country’s first Imam Hatip schools, set up by the state to teach young people to be imams and preachers.

The pro-government newspaper Sabah published the video on Wednesday, saying Gulesen had previously been criticized for her “procedures on stage, her very low-cut dresses, and the raising of the LGBT flag”.

A number of ministers responded to Guelsen’s comments on Twitter, with Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag condemning what he called “primitive” and “outdated mentality” statements.

“Inciting one part of society towards the other by using the language of hatred, hatred and discrimination under the guise of being an artist is the greatest contempt for art,” he wrote.

On Thursday, Goulsen apologized to anyone her comments offended, saying she was taken advantage of by some who wanted to polarize society.

singer support

Julsen’s attorney, Emek Emre, told Reuters her legal team filed an appeal against the official arrest decision on Friday, saying her detention process was illegal and irregular from the start.

We expect everything to be done as required by law. I hope and expect that this (arrest) decision will be reversed.

Thousands have spoken out on social media in support of Goulsen, saying she has been targeted for her liberal views and support for LGBT rights.

“I think she is under arrest because she is a figure who represents secular Turkey and a sensitive artist for providing support to the LGBT movement,” said Vesel Ok, a lawyer and co-director of the Association for Media and Legal Studies.

Gulesen was taken for interrogation from her home in Istanbul.
Gulesen was taken for interrogation from her home in Istanbul.
Depo photos via AP, File

“I think they were looking for an excuse to arrest her and they found her with irony four months ago,” he told Reuters in an interview in his office in Istanbul.

In a rare move, several pro-government columnists criticized Gulsen’s arrest.

“Are we going to jail awaiting trial? Anyone who talks nonsense? Let society punish her,” said Mohamed Berlas in his Sabah column.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, said the arrest was aimed at polarizing society to keep Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) in power.

Erdogan and the AKP say Turkish courts are independent.

Attorney Oak said the case showed on the contrary that the country’s judiciary is not independent, referring to the imprisonment of a philanthropist. Usman Kavalaand pro-Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtaş and many other politicians and journalists in recent years.

“The Guelsen case has shown once again that the Turkish judiciary is the government’s greatest weapon,” he said. “It makes you feel that if you live in a way other than those in power, your life and your freedom are in danger.”

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