Four months ago, Turkish singer Gulsan made a joke about religious schools. Now she is in custody.
Gulsen is one of Turkey’s most popular pop stars. The 46-year-old is known for her songs, but also for her stage outfits, which are often very tight. He is very successful and earns millions every year.
Coulson was arrested on Thursday. Charge: Inciting people and endangering public safety. “She didn’t commit or call for an act of violence,” said Thomas Seibert, a freelance journalist based in Turkey.
A religious comedy with consequences
Four months ago, Coulson joked onstage during a show with his band. He said of a musician: “He goes to a religious high school. That’s why he’s so perverted today.
Now politics intervened and it was decided that Gulson should go to jail. The fact that Turkish President Erdogan’s party, the AKP, is reacting with such outrage may have something to do with Erdogan’s past.
“These religious high schools, called Imam Hatif schools, are a pet project of the Erdogan government. Erdogan went to such a school. Maybe that’s why he was offended,” Seibert says. The Erdogan government has been pushing these schools for years. These schools now have about 700,000 students.
Reactions on social media
Coulson’s arrest sparked several reactions on social media. “Social media is really exploding,” says SRF editor Can Külahcigil. “The critical side of the government is particularly loud. People close to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government are also speaking out – but I noticed them very little.
For example, documentary filmmaker Ümit Kivanc tweeted: “Gulson was arrested because his behavior was like saying: ‘I’m not afraid, I don’t care’.” He continues: “Even if Coulson had not mentioned those in these religious schools, they would have been arrested and prosecuted.”
Advocate Sera Kadik also reacted. He is a member of the Workers’ Party of Turkey. He writes in a post on Instagram: “This is an illegal decision.”
According to Külahcigil, voices in favor of Kulson’s arrest are clearly in the minority. “I found some understanding tweets – most of them from anonymous accounts. Many of them wrote that the government did the right thing.
According to freelance journalist Seibert, it’s more than just a pop singer’s joke about religious schools. So why did the Turkish government crack down on the Gulsen case? “Erdogan wants to further cement the division of the country into secular and Islamic-devout parts. He needs to rally his own supporters before the elections.”
Elections in Turkey
Turkey will hold presidential and parliamentary elections in a few months. Incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has already announced his intention to run again. He has been in power for nearly 20 years. It is not yet clear when the elections will be held. The last elections should be held by June 2023. It is likely to happen earlier.
In recent years, Erdogan has been able to rely on his voters because of his economic success. Now the Turkish economy is bleak. “So Erdogan needs a title that can bind people to him.” Gulsen.
Gulson’s arrest led to criticism of the government. “However, the government has managed to consolidate its position in the polls in recent months. Even though the economy continues to go down the drain,” Seibert explains. “Erdogan is trying to appeal to conservatives.”
There is no uniform size
The Coulson prank video turned into a problem four months later. “The explanations for such cases are always the same,” Seibert explains. Any of the whistleblowers should inform the government. Or authorities use complaints from the public.
“Officials are increasingly willing to respond to complaints from their own constituencies. The judiciary is officially said to be independent and to hear hate speech cases. However, those who are more on the side of the government can take all sorts of things without judicial intervention.
Imprisonment up to three years
Gulsan is currently in a women’s prison in Istanbul. There she awaits her trial date. He has a week to appeal the arrest warrant. “If I see it correctly, this complaint is unlikely to succeed. If public pressure continues to mount, he is likely to leave.” Otherwise, singer Coulson faces a process that could see her serve up to three years in prison.
“Wannabe pop culture fanatic. Zombie advocate. Entrepreneur. Internet evangelist. Alcohol fanatic. Typical travel buff.”