Gulsen was charged last month with “inciting hatred” after a joke she made about religious schools.
A Turkish court has overturned a decision to keep one of the country’s biggest pop stars under house arrest after she was charged last month with ‘inciting hatred’ over a joke she made on stage about the country’s religious schools.
Gulsen Bayraktar Colakoglu, a 46-year-old singer widely known by her first name, was briefly jailed last month on the charge, before being placed under house arrest days later.
Although she was released from house arrest on Monday, Gulsen will still have a travel ban in place, according to her lawyer.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in power since becoming prime minister in 2003, studied at a religious Imam Hatip school, schools founded by the state to educate young men to become preachers. Schools became widespread, with graduates able to enter any field.
In April, Gulsen joked that his guitarist had a “perversion,” and that it had to do with his upbringing at an Imam Hatip school.
His comments were captured on a mobile phone and reposted by a pro-government daily last month, sparking an uproar within Erdogan’s conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP) ahead of the general election in the country. ‘next year.
Gulsen’s arrest, however, sparked outrage among the star’s legion of young liberal fans, with critics saying she was being targeted for her support of LGBT+ rights and liberal views.
Before her arrest, Gulsen released a statement on social media, saying she regretted her comments had been used to stir up further divisions in the polarized country.
The first hearing in the trial is set for October 21. If found guilty, Gulsen faces up to three years in prison.
Critics say Turkish courts are taking instructions from the government and its allies. The government claims that the courts are independent.