21/10/2022 | Writer: Kerem Selçuk
While the court has decided to lift the judicial control, LGBTQI icon Gülşen is still banned from traveling abroad.
As a result of the joke she was exchanging with a musician from her music band, LGBTQI icon Gülşen was targeted by the government and spent four days in prison. The trial took place in the 11th Criminal Court of General Jurisdiction.
In her defense, Gülşen stated that “The whole thing is only about a joke I exchanged with a friend on stage.” Having argued that it is rather meaningful that the video involving that joke started circulating around after four months it was shot, Gülşen commented on the whole public lynching and her arrest by saying: “I see the whole process as a punishment for being the Gülşen.”
The Office of the Chief Prosecutor of İstanbul asks for three-year imprisonment of the famous singer on the grounds that she provoked the public towards anger and hatred. Among the 702 complainants are the Minister of Industry and Technology Mustafa Varank, a former graduate of İstanbul İmam Hatip High School*, Gaziantep Önder İmam Hatipliler Derneği ( An association of İmam Hatip graduates), writer Emine Şenliklioğlu, and Saliha Okur Gümrükçüoğlu, the board chairperson of KADEM ( Women and Democracy Association).
Gülşen’s defense at the court is as follows:
“I believe I am innocent. Everything was about a joke I exchanged with a friend on stage. I wanted to mingle with the crowd at the concert and so asked a friend to carry me into the crowd. My friend told me “Let the imam carry you”. We have a friend whose nickname is “imam”. As the nickname bears certain connotations in my mind, I replied with a spontaneous answer. I had no intention of targeting a certain group of people, though. That was just a short humorous dialogue, nothing more than that. I did not involve the crowd in the conversation, nor did I encourage or provoke them to take part in it. I did not share the video later as a promotion. Thus, I do not believe I provoked the public in any way towards anger or hatred. Hereby, I sincerely apologize to those whom I may have upset involuntarily. As a conscientious citizen, I feel the responsibility of fighting back against any sort of discriminatory practices I have been witnessing and what I have been experiencing is far from being a witness. I am also a victim of such practices.
I have been a victim of public lynching and verbal abuse too many times just because of how I lead my life as a woman, a mother and a partner as well as the way I dress up and my body. Still, I did not refrain from speaking freely and I still don’t. So, once again I would like to stress that what I said that day on the stage had nothing to do with my social awareness. It was just a joke.
The joke was represented as if I had a secret agenda in mind, but those who watch the video will clearly understand that it was not a malicious act. The timing and how quickly the video circulated, however, make me suspect the manipulative intentions. Although the concert took place on April 30, it was not until August 24 that the video started circulating around. The all-of-a-sudden appearance of the video, its going viral, public lynching, and my being taken under custody took just one day.
To be honest, I see the whole process as a punishment for being the Gülşen. Let alone its negative financial outcomes, I suffered a lot emotionally I was sentenced to twenty days of imprisonment, five being in Bakırköy Prison, and the rest being at home. My five-year-old kid was deprived of me and vice versa. As a result of the uncertainty, around fifty concerts have been canceled and I am not allowed to give concerts abroad. I had to own up to all the financial compensations. On behalf of my friends, family, and my workmates, I demand justice and that this victimization be over soon.”
Translator's note: After madrasas in Turkey had been abolished, İmam Hatip School was founded to offer vocational training to government-employed imams.
Tags: women, arts and culture