October 2022 Church & State Magazine

Turkish Singer Arrested For Religious Schools Joke

  Turkish Singer Arrested For Religious Schools Joke

A pop singer in Turkey has been arrested for a joke she made about religious schools during a concert.

The singer, who goes by the sole name Gulsen, made the joke in April. She asserted that one of the members of her band had a problem with “perversion” and said it was due to his having attended a religious school.

A video of the quip began circulating on social media, and Gulsen was detained in August. The singer, who has been called Turkey’s Madonna, apologized for the remark, saying it was a “joke between colleagues.” Nevertheless, she remains in jail pending a trial.

The BBC reported that Gulsen, 46, had previously been criticized by conservative Muslim clerics for her manner of dress and her public support for LGBTQ rights.

Some critics of Turkey’s repressive ultra-conservative government have suggested that the arrest is an attempt by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to consolidate support among religious conservatives ahead of elections in 2023.


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Abortion bans violate the separation of church and state. Americans United and the National Women’s Law Center—the leading experts in religious freedom and gender justice—have joined forces with thirteen clergy from six faith traditions to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans as unconstitutionally imposing one narrow religious doctrine on everyone.

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