On October 21, 2022, Turkish pop singer Gülsen appeared in court to appeal her acquittal after she claimed she had incited hatred and hostility in her community for her comments on Islamic Imam Hatip schools.
The Turkish court agreed to overturn the singer’s previous order to check in weekly at the nearest police station and provide her signature. However, they will continue to maintain their international travel ban status.
During the trial, Gulsen made a statement in court that she had been assaulted by the population. She said she was lynched and abused many times because of her clothing. Her status as an artist was also affected as over 50 of her concerts were cancelled. She said:
“I have been verbally lynched and abused many times as a woman, wife, mother. I see all of this as a punishment for my existence as a Gülşen.”
According to court records, the 46-year-old will be released from the hearings. The next hearing will be on December 21st.
Gulsen left her university to pursue her music career
Gulsen’s full name is Gulsen Colakoglu (née Bayraktar). She was born on May 29, 1976 and grew up in Istanbul. She is the third child of her parents Arslan and Nimet. The singer attended Şehremini Anadolu High School and after graduating studied Turkish Classical Music at Istanbul Technical University.
In her freshman year of college, she started performing in nightclubs and bars across Istanbul, but found it difficult to balance her studies and passion. After completing her freshman year, Gulsen left the university.
The singer then established herself as a musician with her debut album in 1995. Be Adam (Oh man!). Because of her unique sound, her fame quickly rose. However, her popularity declined just as quickly after the music video for her Sarışınım (my blonde) was declared obscene by the TV sensor board.
Amid the singer’s rocky career, Colakoglu has earned the title of “Turkish Madonna” with her blend of pop and classic Ottoman melodies and propensity for controversy.
Why was Gülsen arrested?
During the concert on August 25, the musician commented on a colleague from the crew, explaining that his “perversion” was due to attending Hatip school. The singer said:
“Visited the Imam Hatip schools. Hence the perversion.”
Videos of this comment flooded social media with people calling for her arrest. The issue of the Imam Hatip School is very sensitive in the country as, despite its religious basis, it has been implicated in numerous sexual assault scandals. Speculation also suggests that this is a front for many nefarious activities carried out with public funding.
She was jailed for five days for incitement to hatred and hostility and later sentenced to 15 days of house arrest, although she maintained her innocence. Gulsen claimed the comment was a joke between the two friends and nothing more. The pop star said:
“I have not shown any attitude that would incite people to hatred and enmity. I did not address a third person, social class or section of society.”
Gulsen’s arrest sparked a public uproar as thousands took to social media to claim she had been targeted for her active support of the LGBTQIA+ community and liberal views.
She is currently facing three years in prison for her misdeeds.