Ezhel, one of Turkey’s best-known rappers, has been arrested for allegedly encouraging drug use through his lyrics and social media accounts, Hürriyet newspaper reported on Thursday.
A team from the Istanbul drug squad arrested the rapper, real name Ömer Sercan İpekçioğlu, after conducting an investigation into individuals allegedly promoting drug use over the internet, and stated that some of Ezhel’s songs also encouraged narcotic use.
Ezhel has been brought before a court which ordered him detained; he is now being held in prison.
A large number of Turkish social media users were taken aback by the decision, with some questioning why police targeted and jailed the rapper for his lyrics rather than investigating serious crimes.
Thousands of tweets carried the hashtag #FreeEzhel to the worldwide trending topics list hours after news of his arrest was reported.
The 28-year-old rapper, a native of Turkey’s capital city of Ankara, is one of the country’s most successful rap artists whose music video “Şehrimin tadı” has over 30 million hits on YouTube, and whose song “Geceler” has been streamed over 13 million times on the music streaming platform Spotify.
The rapper and multi-instrumentalist has been noted as a rising artist outside Turkey, having performed for the first time in the UK last Sunday. He is also slated to appear at the Sziget festival in Budapest in August.