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Gulsen arrest: Turkish pop star placed under house arrest for prank on religious schools

Gulsen arrest: Turkish pop star placed under house arrest for prank on religious schools
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Istanbul
CNN

A Turkish court has placed the pop music singer Gulsen Bayraktar Colakoglu under house arrest, the state-run Anadolu news agency said on Monday.

Last week, the pop star, widely known as Gulsen, was jailed pending trial on charges of “inciting or insulting the public to hatred and enmity” after making a joke about religious schools in Turkey, according to Anadolu.

On Monday, the Istanbul criminal court released Gulsen on the condition of “not leaving the residence” after his lawyers appealed his arrest, according to Anadolu. Turkish media showed Gulsen outside the prison compound getting into a van.

However, the charges against the singer have not been dropped and the prosecutor will write an indictment asking the judge to start hearings.

The charges appear to be related to a video circulating on social media of a Gulsen concert in April, when he joked about one of the musicians.

He “graduated from Imam Hatip (religious schools). That’s where the perverted side of him comes from,” he said.

Gulsen denied the allegation, saying it was a joke, and apologized to those who were offended by his comments.

After her arrest, Gulsen shared a message on her official Twitter and Instagram accounts, apologizing to “anyone who was offended” by the prank and saying it had been misrepresented by “malicious individuals seeking to polarize our country.”

“I made a joke to my colleagues, with whom I have worked for many years in the field. It has been published by people who intend to polarize society,” he said.

Celebrities, cultural figures and fans have called for the pop star’s release, including award-winning British-Turkish novelist Elif Shafak, who said in a tweet: “I deeply regret the arrest of the artist @gulsen. She was attacked for boldly defending women’s rights, LGBT+ rights, secularism, democracy, and pluralism. This is a lynching campaign. It is not lawful or conscious. Free at once.

Iconic Turkish pop star Tarkan also condemned the arrest on Twitter, saying, “This injustice towards Gulsen must end and Gulsen must be released immediately.”

Gulsen has previously been attacked by conservative Turkish groups for her revealing stage outfits and support for the LGBTQ community.

the Muslim majority country it is officially secular but is highly polarized on issues related to religion, women’s rights, and LGBTQ rights.

Imam Hatip schools, which teach religious studies alongside the Turkish curriculum, have grown in the two decades that the conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been in power. The schools are known for training young people to become imams or preachers. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended the school, as did many AKP members.

AKP members defended Gulsen’s arrest, with party spokesman Omer Celik tweeting that “hate speech is not an art form.”

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