Turkish Justice Ministry issues arrest warrant for YouTuber over Prophet Mohammed comment

Turkey’s Justice Ministry has issued an arrest warrant on Diamond Tema, a YouTube personality who criticized Prophet Mohammed in a video, for “inciting public hatred.” The main opposition CHP and bar associations criticized Minister Yılmaz Tunç for violating freedom of expression.

Duvar English

Turkey’s Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç on June 18 announced that they have issued an arrest warrant for Youtuber Diamond Tema for “inciting public hatred and hostility” over his remarks on the Islamic prophet Mohammed in a video.

Tema appeared on the YouTube channel "Yer6 Film" and debated the topic of sharia with another social media personality, who asserted that Turkey should be governed by sharia law.

In the video, Tema repeated the argument that the Islamic prophet Mohammad married a six-year-old Aisha, a claim that is disputed by some Muslim circles. 

In a social media post, Tunç remarked that an investigation was launched into Tema’s “insulting, ugly, and provocative,” comments, and an arrest warrant was issued. 

“We cannot accept any inciting, ugly, and provocative statements against the Islam religion and our dear Prophet,” wrote Tunç. 

The minister’s statement drew criticism from opposition figures and bar associations for disregarding the freedom of expression. 

Istanbul Bar Association President, Lawyer Filiz Saraç, stated that Tunç's comments were unacceptable, emphasizing that the Constitution grants everyone the right to express and disseminate their thoughts and opinions individually or collectively through speech, writing, pictures, or other means.

In her social media post, Saraç continued, "Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights also states that 'Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right includes the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.' We hope the Minister will show the same sensitivity towards actions that violate the secular republic."

Tunç responded that he found the criticisms “unfair,” and that Tema’s statements exceeded the limits of freedom of expression. He stated that prosecutors and courts would determine whether such expressions constituted a crime.

Meanwhile, Tema stated that he had left the country after receiving threats about his views and called the disproportionate response the video received a “smear campaign.” 

The social media personality would return to Turkey after the commotion died down and was not afraid of facing trial for his views, which were “supported by historical documents.”

Tema is a 30-year-old author and content creator and holds Albanian as well as Turkish citizenship. A self-proclaimed agnostic, he shares videos about religion, philosophy, and history.