Turkish singer sentenced over joke on religious schools

Turkish pop star Gulsen was given a suspended sentence over a remark she made on stage about religious schools. She told the court she did not mean to cause offense.

Pop singer Gulsen (DW)
Pop singer Gulsen (DW)


A Turkish court ruled on Wednesday handed pop singer Gulsen a 10-month suspended sentence after convicting her of "inciting hatred and enmity" over a joke about Turkey's religious schools.

Gulsen, whose full name is Gulsen Colakoglu, was jailed in August last year and later placed under house arrest when she quipped that the "perversion" of one of her musicians came from attending a religious school.

Gulsen made the comment on stage months earlier, but action was only taken when a video of it was republished by a pro-government daily in August, causing an uproar within in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Gulsen's 'respectful stance' taken into account

The court in Istanbul found her guilty of the charge and initially sentenced her to one year in prison, state-owned Anadolu Agency reported. But it later reduced the sentence, citing her "respectful stance" during the trial.

She had apologized for any offense she caused religious school graduates but vehemently rejected accusations that she aimed to "incite hatred."

The suspended sentence means she will not serve prison time unless she is not convicted of another charge again within five years.

She argued the remark was intended only as a joke.

Erdogan also went to an Imam Hatip school. The schools were founded by the state to educate young men to be imams and preachers.

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