01/02/2021 | Writer: Yıldız Tar
Two Boğaziçi students were arrested after being targeted by the remarks of the Minister of Interior, Governorate of İstanbul, President of Religious Affairs Administration, Presidential Spokesperson and CHP Party Spokesperson.
Two students were arrested, two students were placed under house arrest, and one student was released within the scope of an investigation initiated after the campaign against a single work in an exhibition held at Boğaziçi University.
Two students were arrested on the allegation of "inciting the public to hatred and enmity or humiliation", while the justification of the investigation was the allegation of "public humiliation of the religious values adopted by a section of the population".
Human rights lawyer Att. Kerem Altıparmak commented on the arrest of the students and the allegations:
“According to Turkish Penal Code article 216/3, the penalty for insulting religious values is between 6 months and 1 year. For such a simple crime, the Ministers of Justice and Interior, Vice President, Head of Religious Affairs, Head of Communications, TİHEK President, Governor of İstanbul, YÖK (The Council of Higher Education) President, and many university rectors made statements.
“Of course, an arrest warrant cannot be issued for such a simple crime, according to Article 100 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. So what should be done, did so many statesmen made these statements for nothing? So let's find another crime so we can demand arrest. What shall we do? Let's blame them for incitement to hatred and enmity.”
In a video shared by the Istanbul Branch of the Contemporary Lawyers Association, the arrested students said, “They have issued an arrest warrant about us. Our morale is not too bad, we will appeal. Don't worry too much about us. Support us. The ball is in your field”.
What did the politicians say on the way to the arrest of students?
The process that started by the Boğaziçi Islamic Studies Club (BİSAK) with a smear campaign over a collage from an exhibition, turned into an intense hate campaign with increasing hate speech and slanders against LGBTI+'s.
On the other hand, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said, "4 LGBT perverts were detained!" and committed hate speech against LGBTI+'s. The Governorate of Istanbul stated that the Boğaziçi University Fine Arts Club and Boğaziçi University LGBTI+ Studies Club were searched too. The Governorate included having the "LGBTI flag" in the Boğaziçi University LGBTI + Studies Club to the report as "LGBTI flags and various posters and banners used in the protests were seized". Even though they did not constitute evidence of any crime, the LGBTI+ flags are taken from the club room by the police.
"We will take legal action against those who commit this disrespect," said Ali Erbaş, President of Religious Affairs Administration, on Twitter.
The rectorate of Boğaziçi University also launched an administrative investigation. In the statement made by the university, it was reported that an administrative investigation was initiated by the Rectorate regarding the said Kaaba image. Melih Bulu, the appointed rector of Boğaziçi University, said the following on his social media account:
“Attacking the holy symbols of Islam by a group of presumptuous people is by no means acceptable. This has no place in Boğaziçi values. A comprehensive investigation has been launched against those responsible for this incident.”
Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül, said, “It is the order of God Almighty; 'keep my house clean from all dirt.' The law cannot tolerate the disrespect against our sacred Kaaba by these people whose hearts are rusted with hatred. An investigation was initiated by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office against this infamous act and a detention order is issued for the perpetrators”.
The statement of Presidency's Communications Director Fahrettin Altun, which he called the protesters as "mad minority", is as follows:
“The main goal of the perverted way of thinking and life that the mad minority is trying to normalize under the pretext of freedom, equality, and human rights is to subvert our generations. Their only motivation is to desecrate our sacred ones. Images in Boğaziçi University are proof of this.
“We will never allow those who try to propagate immorality, insulting the saints, hatred, and terror as freedom. This mad minority with Blind eyes and sealed hearts, has also been condemned in the legitimate conscience of our nation. If we don't prevent your vile actions, then let us be doomed!"
The main opposition party CHP’s Spokesperson Faik Öztrak also targeted the students. Faik Öztrak, the Spokesperson and Vice-Chair of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), also shared a message on Twitter, which also sparked reactions:
"We cannot accept any attack or humiliation targeting the sacred values of humanity. We vehemently condemn this open provocation. We expect the seen and unseen responsible parties to be identified as soon as possible."
Campaigns involving intense hate speech and discrimination have started on Twitter via the tags #BoğazicindelgbtRezaleti (The LGBT Scandal at Boğaziçi) and #KabeKutsalimizdir (Kaaba is Our Sacred). Both tags took place in Turkey’s TT list of Twitter for almost a day.
Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın was among those who posted on social media with the tag #KabeKutsalimizdir:
"Disrespect to our holy Kaaba is neither freedom of expression nor right to demonstrate.
“This heresy will receive the punishment it deserves both before the law and in the righteous conscience.
“Your vile intentions and abusive actions are negligent, deceitful, and frustrating.
In this storm of hate speech, Mil-Diyanet Sen (Union of Religious Affairs Administration Workers) called for a campaign against the LGBTI+'s freedom of expression and organization by saying "We are giving a petition to the Ministry of Interior for the Closure of LGBT Associations". LGBTI + associations were targeted with the image circulating on social media with the signature of Mil-Diyanet Sen.
Translation: Yiğit E. Korkmaz
Tags: human rights, education