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US concerned about ‘judicial harassment’ after Turkish pop star’s arrest: report

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The United States said it remained concerned about Turkey’s censorship of free speech, and women’s groups protested in İstanbul on Saturday, after the arrest of pop star Gülşen over a quip she made about religious schools, Reuters reported.

The singer-songwriter was jailed on Thursday pending trial on a charge of incitement to hatred after a video of her on-stage remark in April was broadcast by a pro-government media outlet.

While several state ministers condemned Gülşen’s words, her arrest drew a fierce response from critics, who see President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government as bent on punishing those who oppose its conservative views.

A US State Department spokesperson said it remains concerned about widespread efforts in Turkey to restrict expression via censorship and “judicial harassment” following Gulsen’s detention.

Protesters in İstanbul criticized what they called inconsistency between the judiciary’s inaction towards violence against women and the artist’s speedy investigation and arrest. Many say Gülşen was targeted for her liberal views and support for LGBT+ rights.

“Hundreds of women would be alive today if men who assaulted other women were captured as quickly as Gülşen was,” organizers of the İstanbul protest told demonstrators through a loudspeaker.

Her arrest is the latest injustice against “women who don’t fit the mold,” or are not “the type of woman the government wants,” they said.

In the video of her performance in April, Gülşen refers to a musician in her band and says in a light-hearted manner: “He previously studied at an imam-hatip [school]. That’s where his perversion comes from.”

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