Turkish pop star Gulsen jailed over on-stage joke about religious schools

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Aug. 26 (UPI) — Turkish pop star Gulsen has been jailed for comments she made on stage regarding Imam Hatip religious schools. She faces charges of allegedly “inciting hatred,” according to reports.

“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,” Gulsen Bayraktar Colakoglu said. “I am sorry that my words gave material to malicious people who aim to polarize our country.”

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The singer is known for her support of LGBTQ rights and is known by her first name.

The joke that got her arrested was made on stage during an April Istanbul concert. She joked that one of her musicians’ “perversion” arose from attending religious school.

Gulsen was arrested at home and taken to court, and her remarks are being investigated. She apologized via social media prior to her arrest.

The clip of her on stage went viral and reportedly angered senior members of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan‘s Islamic-rooted AKP political party.

“Targeting a fraction of society with the allegations of ‘perversion’ and trying to separate Turkey is a crime of hatred and disgrace of humanity,” AKP spokesman Omer Celik said.

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The state-run Anadolu Agency reported that under court questioning, Gulsen rejected accusations that she incited hatred and said she had endless respect for the values and sensitivities of Turkey.

Opposition political party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said that Gulsen should be freed, tweeting “Winds of peace have been blowing for a long time among young people with different lifestyles. The goal is to take a joke that has exceeded its purpose and set our young people against each other.”