Turkish singer Gulsen appears in court over religious schools joke – Billboard

A Turkish pop singer accused of “inciting hatred and hostility” with a joke about Turkish religious schools dismissed the charge on Friday (October 21st) in her first court appearance.

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Singer-songwriter Gulsen has been charged and briefly jailed for the joke she made at a concert in April when she joked that one of her musicians’ ‘perversion’ came from of attending a religious school.

The 46-year-old singer, whose full name is Gulsen Colakoglu, was taken from her home in Istanbul in August after a video of the concert began circulating on social media, with a hashtag calling for her arrest.

She was jailed for five days and then spent 15 days under house arrest despite apologizing for any offense she caused to religious school graduates. She now faces up to three years in prison if convicted of the incitement charge.

In her testimony on Friday, Gulsen said she teased a member of the group who was nicknamed “Imam” but had not attended a religious school.

“It was just a joke between two people. It was not a statement” Milliyet The newspaper quoted the singer as saying in court. “I did not display an attitude that would incite people to hatred and enmity.”

“I did not target a third person, a social class or a section of society,” she said, asking for an acquittal.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and many members of his Islam-based ruling party graduated from religious schools called Imam Hatip, which were originally established to train imams.

A 48-page indictment against Gulsen had 702 plaintiffs, including private individuals, a pro-government women’s rights organization and a religious school association. Some of them withdrew their complaints on Friday, Milliyet reported.

The Turkish Penal Code criminalizes incitement to hatred and enmity against different groups in society on the basis of class, race, religion or sect, requiring a prison sentence in cases that lead to threats to public safety.

Gulsen had previously become a target in Islamic circles due to her revealing stage outfits and for unfurling an LGBTQ flag at a concert.

The court on Friday lifted the requirement for her to register weekly at a police station, but upheld the ban on leaving Turkey. He adjourned the proceedings until December 21.

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