Turkish police on Thursday detained pop singer Gülşen Bayraktar Çolakoğlu as part of an investigation over her remarks allegedly insulting the graduates of the country’s religious Imam Hatip schools, T24 news site reported.
The 46-year-old songwriter, who goes by her first name of Gülşen, was taken into police custody following her alleged reference in an April concert to Imam Hatip schools as causing “perversion,” it said.
The remarks prompted a probe by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on charges of violation of Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) regarding “inciting the public to hatred or hostility,” and “publicly degrading a segment of the society,” T24 reported.
Footage of the remarks in question went viral on Turkish social media on Wednesday, with the hashtag #GülşenTutuklansın (Arrest Gülşen) on Twitter.
Turkey’s Imam Hatip schools, of which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a graduate, focus on religious subjects, including the Qur’an and the Sunnah, teachings of Prophet Muhammad, among other Islamic studies.
Originally an institution to train imams, the schools have since become more popular among the public and increased in number over the past two decades under the rule of Erdoğan, who has long maintained a goal of raising a “pious generation.”
According to the Turkish Ministry of Education, the number of Imam Hatip middle schools in the country tripled between 2014-2019, from 1099 to 3286. The number of Imam Hatip secondary schools also rose from 537 to 1605 during the same time period.