Top Turkish court chair says pop star Gülşen’s arrest was wrong

The Court of Cassation head Mehmet Akarca has stated that “it is not right” to target the entire judicial system through “an erroneous decision," responding to the criticism and outcry over pop star Gülşen’s arrest for her comments about Islamic Imam Hatip schools from four months ago, without explicitly mentioning her name.

This file photo shows Court of Cassation President Mehmet Akarca.

Duvar English

Turkey’s Court of Cassation President Mehmet Akarca on Sept. 1 said that the order to arrest famous pop star Gülşen was a mistake, without explicitly mentioning her name.

“It is natural to criticize judicial decisions. However, criticism must be logical and legal within the limits of fairness and conscience. It is not right to target and destroy the entire judicial system through an erroneous decision. As in modern legal systems, there are many mechanisms in the Turkish judicial system that enable the correction of erroneous decisions,” Akarca stated during the opening ceremony of the new legislative year, which starts on Sept. 1 every year in Turkey.

Akarca’s comment came after Gülşen was released from pre-trial detention and transferred to house arrest over a past quip she made about Islamic Imam Hatip schools.

“As soon as an incident is heard, it is extremely desperate to spread untrue and sensational news through the written and visual media and social media in order to create pressure on the trial process, before even evidence is collected. It is even a crime. Making decisions is the constitutional duty of the judge and cannot be delegated to anyone. No advice or suggestion can be made to judges,” he added.

Gülşen was jailed pending trial on Aug. 25 on a charge of incitement to hatred, after a video of her comments from four months ago surfaced on a website of a pro-government newspaper Sabah.

In the video of her performance in April, Gülşen refers to a musician in her band and says in a light-hearted manner: "He studied at an Imam Hatip (school) previously. That's where his perversion comes from."

Thousands took to social media in support last week, saying she was targeted for her support for LGBT+ rights and liberal views that go against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP). Several ministers condemned her comments on Twitter.

An Istanbul court on Aug. 29 ruled to release Gülşen from jail and placed her under house arrest.