On August 25, Turkish pop-star Gülşen was arrested, and she now faces charges of "inciting hatred and enmity" for a joke she made about religious schools in Turkey.
Turkish singer Gulsen arrested over religious schools joke https://t.co/1b4uwy92Iy
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) August 26, 2022
Gülşen Çolakoğlu, a 46 years old Turkish singer-songwriter, was taken away from her home in Istanbul for inquiry and was later detained. After four days in jail, she was subsequently placed under house arrest.
The charges come from a joke Gülşen made during her concert in April in Istanbul, where she was remarking to an unknown musician, apparent jokingly, that his "perversion" was caused by attending an Imam Hatip school. Since then, the video of the singer's comment went viral, with a hashtag calling for her arrest. The outrage reached the senior members of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Islamic groups previously targeted Gülşen because of her revealing stage outfits and the unfurling of an LGBTQ flag at a concert.
Turkish singer Gulsen was arrested after making a joke about the country's religious schools. https://t.co/9CJFAKagre
— billboard (@billboard) August 27, 2022
She later apologized for her actions and said it was a joke that was never meant to hurt anyone in any way but was twisted by malicious people to divide the country.
Gülşen rejected all accusations about her spreading hatred and enmity and said she has "endless respect" for the values and sensitivities of her country. Gülşen's lawyer requested her release from house arrest but was rejected.
"Targeting a fraction of society with the allegations of 'perversion' and trying to divide Turkey is a crime of hatred and disgrace of humanity," Ömer Çelik, Justice and Development Party spokesperson, stated.
President Erdoğan, along with many other members of his Islamic ruling party, has completed studies in religious schools built initially to train imams. Promising to raise a "pious generation" under his rule, the number of religious schools in Turkey has increased under Erdoğan.
Critics say that Erdoğan has been trying to win the support of socially conservative voters to win the general election in June next year. The Turkish opposition is seizing upon Gülşen's case to bolster their strength as well.
"Don't betray law and justice; release the artist now!" Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu wrote on a Twitter post, calling on the judges and prosecutors to release Gülşen immediately.
The news of Gülşen's arrest gave rise to some Fenerbahce football fans singing one of her songs at a Europa League match in Istanbul against Austria Vienna. In social media posts, a section of the packed stadium joined along to sing the song of Gülşen in unity was shown.