Mar 25 2018

Singer Olcay sentenced to jail for insulting Erdoğan

Turkish singer Zuhal Olcay  was sentenced to prison for 10 months last Thursday for insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkish daily Sozcu reported.

The charges she faced were based on a complaint that she had made an offensive hand gesture during a 2016 performance. An investigation was subsequently launched with footage from the concert showing that Olcay had changed the lyrics of a song (“Boş Vermişim Dünyayı”) to, “Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, it’s all empty, it’s all a lie, life will end one day and you’ll say ‘I had a dream’.” This led to charges that Olcay had revised the lyrics of a song in order to insult Erdoğan and accompanied them with an offensive hand gesture.

Olcay rejected the accusations in testimony, saying she had only used Erdoğan’s name because it fitted with the song’s existing rhyme scheme. She said that the hand gesture had been directed at a member of the audience who had made a disparaging comment about her.

Prosecutions for insulting Erdoğan are common in Turkey. Erdoğan’s lawyers have filed nearly 2000 cases against people on such accusations, amongst them Enes Kanter, a Turkish basketball player in the U.S. NBA team New York Knicks.