Turkish pop star Gulsen has been placed under house arrest just days after she was taken into custody for joking that her country’s religious schools breed perverts.
Gulsen Bayraktar Colakoglu, 46, was released from prison after a court ruled that she could be placed under house arrest pending trial on 29th August.
The decision came after her lawyer Emek Emre filed an appeal with the Istanbul 26th Penal Court of First Instance on 26th August demanding her release.
Despite stating that placing his client under house arrest was “incompatible with the law”, Emre told local media: “We are very happy about the decision.”
Gulsen, who is widely considered one of Turkey’s greatest pop stars, was remanded in Bakirkoy Women’s Closed Penitentiary on 25th August.
She was reportedly charged with “inciting people to hatred and hostility” following her onstage remarks in April 2022 about Turkey’s Imam Hatip religious schools.
Alumni of Imam Hatip schools include Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Footage from the concert on 30th April began circulating on pro-government media and social media accounts soon after her arrest.
In the footage, Gulsen comments: “He had studied at an Imam Hatip school. That is where his perversion comes from.” It is not clear whom she was referring to.
On the day of her arrest, Gulsen took to social media to explain that her comments were an “unfortunate joke” and apologise to anyone she may have offended.
She said: “A joke I shared with my colleagues with whom I have worked for many years…was featured and published by those who aim to polarise society.
“I am sorry that my words gave material to malicious people who aim to polarise our country.”
The Justice and Development Party (AKP), under whose watch the number of Imam Hatip schools has skyrocketed, accused the award-winning songstress of “forming and spreading hatred”.
AKP spokesperson Omer Celik said: “Targeting a fraction of society with the allegations of ‘perversion’ and trying to separate Turkey is a crime of hatred and disgrace of humanity.”
Gulsen – who has nine studio albums and numerous number-one hits in Turkey’s official music chart – has been strongly criticised by the country’s conservatives for her racy outfits and support for LGBT rights.
It is not clear when she will be tried, but she reportedly faces up to three years in prison if found guilty.