Turkish singer Gulesen arrested for suspension from religious schools
Turkish pop star Gulesen was arrested on Thursday after Istanbul prosecutors opened an investigation into ‘incitement to hatred and enmity’ after a comment she made on stage about religious schools, reported local media.
Singer Gulsen Bayraktar Kolaoglu – a 46-year-old woman known by her first name – has been arrested at her home in Istanbul and brought to justice.
A judge then sent her back to jail pending an investigation into statements she made at a concert in April about Imam Hatip religious schools.
A clip of the comments has gone viral and sparked anger among senior officials in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s conservative Justice and Development Party this week.
Gulsen is a household name in Turkey and his case has made headlines in the deeply polarized country.
The controversial comment saw Goulsen notice an unknown person on stage, apparently claiming his “perversion” was caused by his upbringing at a school under Imam al-Khatib.
“Targeting a part of society with allegations of ‘homosexuality’ and trying to divide Turkey is a hate crime and a stigmatization of humanity,” AKP spokesman Omer Celik said.
Julesen issued an apology on social media before his arrest.
“A joke that I shared with my colleagues that I worked with for many years…has come up and spread by those who aim to polarize society,” she said.
“I regret that my words gave substance to evil people who aim to polarize our country.”
Gulson’s attorney, Emek Emre, has promised to resume the star’s arrest and seek his immediate release.
“Our client has committed no crime,” he told reporters.
Vote in advance
Erdogan and his ruling AKP party will need a strong turnout from their socially conservative voters to reverse falling opinion polls ahead of next June’s general election.
Diyanet, or the state-run Directorate of Religious Affairs, has seen its budget and public influence grow in recent years, prompting accusations that Erdogan is using religion to boost his standings ahead of judicial elections scheduled for next year. .
Erdogan’s supporters say the moves reflect the anti-religious dictates of the AKP’s deeply secular predecessors in government.
Critics say Erdogan willfully coerced the courts into cracking down on dissent and free speech, charges the government denies.
The Turkish opposition took advantage of Guelsen’s case to bolster its support.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu on Thursday called on Turkish youth to vote next year to rescue artists like Gulesen from jail.
“I appeal to young people – these unjust sentences will end,” Kilicdaroglu said on a social media site.
“They are trying to rule this country by provoking you and dividing you.”
News of Julsen’s arrest late at night prompted some Fenerbahçe football fans to start singing one of his songs during the Europa League game in Istanbul against Austria Vienna.
Social media posts showed a crowded section of the stadium joining the song in solidarity with the jailed star.