Singer Gülşen jailed over religious school remarks

Singer Gülşen jailed over religious school remarks

Singer Gülşen jailed over religious school remarks

A Turkish court Aug. 25 jailed a pop star on charges of "inciting hatred" over a comment about religious schools.

Singer Gülşen Bayraktar Çolakoğlu - a 46-year-old known by her first name on stage- was detained at home in Istanbul and taken to court.

A judge then remanded her in jail pending an investigation into remarks she made on stage in April about Imam Hatip religious schools.

The footage from Gülşen’s concert on Aug. 24 at which she said, “He had studied at imam hatip before, his perversion stems from there,” triggered torrid criticism against the famous singer.

The Education Ministry reacted by starting a legal process and made a statement regarding the incident. “We condemn the singer for her words that contain insults and slander against a community by accusing our imam hatip high schools at her concert.”

“It is never acceptable to make derogatory and marginalizing words towards these institutions raising generations with national and spiritual values or our any of our school types,” the ministry added.

In his post on social media account condemning Gülşen, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ said, “Using the language of hatred, hostility and discrimination and provoking one part of the public against the other is also disrespectful to art and artists.”

No one has the right and freedom to make hatred, enmity and discrimination among our people, Bozdağ added.

Targeting a certain part of the society with the allegation of “perversion” and trying to separate Türkiye is a hate crime and a disgrace to humanity,” said Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) spokesperson Ömer Çelik.

Additionally, Ali Erbaş, the head of Türkiye’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) reacted condemning the singer.

“It is unacceptable to insult the imam hatip schools and their members, which were established to call for good, to spread good and to eliminate evil, and who have been leading this cause for 70 years.”

Additionally, Özgür Özel, group deputy chairman of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), reacted saying, “A joke has broken hearts. We will be a close follower of the incident.”

Gülşen issued an apology on social media prior to her arrest. "A joke I shared with my colleagues with whom I have worked for many years... was featured and published by those who aim to polarize society," she said.

In her testimony at the police station before being jailed, Gülşen stated that the clip showing her making the comments was a misunderstanding as it was shot during a joke she made to her colleague. “This was not a speech I made to participants of the concert or the media,” she said.

This clip was shared months later for provocative purposes, according to Gülşen.

“I am an artist who loves her country, believes in equality of opportunity, and cannot disregard anyone, and I respect all the values and sensitivities of the country. I do not accept the accusation,” she said.

Gülşen’s attorney Emek Emre vowed to appeal the star’s arrest and seek her immediate release. "Our client has not committed any crime," he told reporters.