Turkish singer Gülşen, who was jailed for joking about a religious educational institution, is to be released from prison. Instead, an Istanbul court put the pop star under house arrest, reports the state news agency Anadolu. The arrest of the popular singer had not only caused great outrage among artists.
Gülşen Bayraktar Çolakoğlu, as her full name is, was arrested last Thursday for jokingly telling a colleague at a concert in April that his “perversity” was due to his time at an Imam Hatip school. The Imam Hatip Schools are state educational institutions with a focus on religious education. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was a student at one such school. Due to the increasing number of religious schools, critics of the AKP government accuse the Islamization of secular Turkey.
According to media reports, Gülşen is accused of public incitement to hatred. Media close to the government recently published a video with the statements and sharply criticized the singer. Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag called her comments “a huge injustice,” according to state broadcaster TRT.
Numerous artists, opposition politicians, queer networks and other associations had called for Gülşen’s release and criticized the imprisonment as illegal – including the famous singer Tarkan. Individual members of the ruling party had also condemned the pre-trial detention. Gülşen is known for her public solidarity with LGBTQ and has been repeatedly criticized for it from religious and pro-government circles.