Turkish court jails pop star for religious comment | Inquirer News

Turkish court jails pop star for religious comment

/ 03:52 AM August 26, 2022

In Turkey, a court arrested a pop star on charges of "inciting hatred" over a comment about religious schools.

Person behind bars. INQUIRER.net stock photo

Istanbul, Turkey — A Turkish court Thursday arrested a pop star famous for her racy outfits and support for LGBTQ rights on charges of “inciting hatred” over a comment about religious schools.

Singer Gulsen Bayraktar Colakoglu – a 46-year-old known by her first name on stage – was detained at home in Istanbul and taken to court.


A judge then sent her to jail pending an investigation into remarks she made on stage in April about Imam Hatip religious schools.


The schools raise children to be Muslim preachers and remain highly controversial among secular Turks.

A clip of the comments went viral and created outrage among senior members of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamic-rooted party this week.

Gulsen is a household name in Turkey and her case has turned into headline news in the officially secular but mostly Muslim and highly polarized country.

Erdogan and his ruling AKP party will need a strong turnout from their core of socially conservative voters to reverse a slide in the polls ahead of a general election next June.

The controversial comment saw Gulsen remark to an unknown person on stage in apparent jest that his “perversion” was caused by his upbringing in an Imam Hatip school.

“Targeting a fraction of society with the allegations of ‘perversion’ and trying to separate Turkey is a crime of hatred and disgrace of humanity,” AKP spokesman Omer Celik said.


Gulsen issued an apology on social media prior to her arrest.

“A joke I shared with my colleagues with whom I have worked for many years… was featured and published by those who aim to polarize society,” she said.

“I am sorry that my words gave material to malicious people who aim to polarize our country.”

Lawyer Veysell Ok of Turkey’s Media and Law Studies non-profit organization said the Istanbul court had no legal grounds to jail Gulsen.

“Gulsen was arrested on charges that would not have seen her sent to prison even if she had been convicted,” Ok tweeted.

“This has nothing to do with the law.”

Singers and other artists have long felt unfairly singled out during Erdogan’s two decade in power.

A string of concerts were cancelled across Turkey this year by ruling party officials on seemingly spurious grounds.

Artists accuse the ruling party of trying flatter the conservative Islamic core of Erdogan’s support in the run-up to next year’s polls.


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TAGS: Culture, hate, Politics, Religion, rights, Turkey

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