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Turkey: a pop star imprisoned for a comment on a religious school

  • Post category:Entertainment
  • Reading time:3 mins read

A Turkish court on Thursday ordered the arrest of a pop star, famous for her daring outfits and support for LGBTQ community rights, and charged her with ‘inciting hatred’ over a comment about religious schools . Singer Gulsen Bayraktar Colakoglu, 46 and known by her first name on stage, was arrested at her home in Istanbul and taken to court.

A judge has ordered her jailed pending an investigation into remarks she made on stage in April about Imam Hatip religious schools.

These schools, which prepare children to become Muslim preachers, remain controversial among secular Turks.

A snippet of those comments went viral and sparked outrage among senior members of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist party this week.

Gulsen is a household name in Turkey and his case has made headlines in the officially secular but predominantly Muslim country.

Gulsen ©AP

President Erdogan and his ruling AKP party will need a strong turnout from their socially conservative core voters to turn the tide in the polls ahead of next June’s elections.

In her controversial comment, Gulsen remarked to a stranger on stage, seemingly in jest, that her “perversion” was due to her upbringing at an Imam Hatip school.

“Targeting a section of society with allegations of ‘perversion’ and attempting to divide Turkey is a hate crime and a disgrace to humanity,” said AKP spokesman Omer Celik.

Gulsen went public with an apology on social media before his arrest. “I am sorry that my words gave material to malicious people who aim to divide our country,” she wrote.

Lawyer Veysell Ok, from the NGO Turkey’s Media and Law Studies, said the Istanbul court had no legal basis to jail Gulsen.

“Gulsen was arrested on charges that wouldn’t have landed her in jail even if she had been convicted,” Ok tweeted. “This has nothing to do with the law.”