Turkish pop diva Gulsen has been detained on suspicion of “inciting hatred and enmity” with a joke she made about Turkey’s religious schools.
Gulsen, a 46-year-old singer and songwriter whose full name is Gulsen Colakoglu, was removed from her Istanbul home for interrogation before being formally detained late on Thursday, August 25th and awaiting trial. She was then sent to jail.
While Gulsen’s remarks were denounced by several state ministers, her detention sparked outrage from those who believe President Tayyip Erdogan’s administration is hell-bent on retaliating against anyone who disagrees with its conservative viewpoints.
The accusations were based on Gulsen’s joke made in April during a live Istanbul performance. She joked that one of her musician’s “perversion” resulted from his attending a religious school. Recently, a video of the singer’s remark went viral on social media along with a hashtag demanding her imprisonment.
Gulsen Apologizes for Her Remarks
Gulsen, who previously attracted criticism from Islamic groups for her skimpy stage attire and for raising the LGBTQ flag at a concert, apologized for the offensive nature of her joke but said her remarks were misconstrued by those hoping to further polarize the nation.
According to the state-run Anadolu Agency, Gulsen denied allegations that she incited animosity and hostility during her interrogation by court officials and asserted that she had “endless respect for the values and sensitivities of [her] country.”
The spokesman for Erdogan’s Justice and Development party, often known as AKP in Turkish, sought to defend the singer’s imprisonment by claiming that “inciting hatred is not an art form.”
AKP spokesman Omer Celik tweeted, “Targeting a segment of society with the allegation of ‘perversion’ and trying to polarize Turkey is a hate crime and a disgrace to humanity.”
Erdogan and a large portion of his Islam-based ruling party’s members attended religious schools that were initially founded to educate imams. Under Erdogan, who has pledged to create a “pious generation,” additional religious schools have been established in Turkey.