Turkey arrests pop singer over religious schools joke, calls it ‘hate crime’

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Singer Gulsen attends the Ozgur Masur fashion show for Mercedes-Benz Istanbul Fashion Week at Zorlu Center on October 12, 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by Levent Kulu/Getty Images for IMG)

A turkish pop star was reportedly arrested for “inciting hatred” in response to a joke she allegedly told about the country’s religious schools.

Gulsen, a 46-year-old pop star in Turkey, was taken from her home in Istanbul for questioning and formally arrested on Thursday night after joking at a concert in April that the “perversion” of one of her musicians stemmed from having attended a islamic school.

“He studied at an Imam Hatip (school) before,” the singer said. “That’s where his perversion comes from.”

A video of the singer’s comment recently began circulating on social media, with a hashtag calling for her arrest.

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Gulsen would have been escorted to jail and awaits trial.

The arrest sparked outrage on social media. Government critics said the move was an effort by the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to shore up support from his religious and conservative base ahead of the election in 10 months.

Gulsen apologized for the offense caused by the joke, but said her comments were seized upon by those wishing to deepen the polarization in the country.

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During his interrogation by judicial authoritiesGulsen rejected accusations that she incited hatred and enmity, and said she had “endless respect for the values ​​and sensibilities of my country”, state agency Anadolu reported.

Gulsen’s request to be released from police custody pending the outcome of a trial was denied.

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The spokesman for Erdogan’s Justice and Development party, known by its Turkish acronym AKP, however, came forward to defend the decision to arrest the singer, saying that “incitement to hatred is not a form of art”.

“Targeting a segment of society with the allegation of ‘perversion’ and trying to polarize Turkey is a hate crime and a disgrace to humanity,” AKP spokesman Omer Celik tweeted.

Associated Press contributed to this report. Read the rest of this story on FoxNews.

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