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Turkish pop star arrested after making joke about religious schools
Featured Image Credit: @gulsen / Instagram

Turkish pop star arrested after making joke about religious schools

The singer isn't the first Turkish celebrity to fall foul of the country's strict speech laws

Turkish pop star Gülşen has been arrested for “inciting hatred and enmity”, as the country cracks down on anti-religious and liberal attitudes.

The singer, formally known as Gülşen Çolakoğlu, was arrested on Thursday, 25 August, pending trial following comments made during an April concert in Istanbul.

She joked that one of her musicians’ ‘perversion’ came from attending a religious school, The Guardian reports. But things turned ugly once the video was shared on social media and a hashtag called for the singer’s arrest started to gain traction.

Gülşen is currently pending trial, and Government critics say the harsh measure is an effort by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to maintain his support among conservative and religious circles in 10 months’ time.

The 46-year-old has already caused a stir for promoting liberal attitudes after displaying an LGBTQ flag at a concert and for her revealing clothes.

She subsequently apologised for her comments, but wholeheartedly rejected the charges of inciting hatred and enmity, claiming she had 'endless respect for the values and sensitivities of my country', as the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Her arrest has caused further division within Turkish society, with Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition party, calling for her release. He tweeted: “Don’t betray law and justice; release the artist now!”

Erdoğan’s Justice and Development party spokesperson, Ömer Çelik, had a different view and said: “Inciting hatred is not an art form”.

“Targeting a segment of society with the allegation of “perversion” and trying to polarise Turkey is a hate crime and a disgrace to humanity.”

The hard-line stance from the Turkish Government stems from the fact that Erdoğan and many members from his ruling party have graduated from religious schools, with the purpose to train imams.

However, support for Gülşen can be found from fellow Turkish pop star Tarkan, who strongly disputed the charges.

He tweeted: “Our legal system, which turns a blind eye to corruption, thieves, those who break the law and massacre nature, those who kill animals and those who use religion to polarise society through their bigoted ideas – has arrested Gülşen in one whack.”

Meanwhile, Turkey itself has also made the headlines after making an official request to formally change its name to Türkiye.

According to TRT World, the decision to change the name is to disassociate itself from the bird which we have for our Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner in the Western world.

President Erdoğan now wants products to say 'Made in Türkiye' rather than 'Made in Turkey', while a video from the government has shown tourists from around the world saying 'Hello Türkiye.'

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Topics: Social Media, World News, Music