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Turkish court removes travel ban imposed on singer due to religious school remark

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A Turkish court has removed a travel ban imposed on a famous pop singer that had prevented her from giving concerts abroad and seeing her son who lives overseas, due to her remarks about religious schools, Turkish media reported.

The travel ban imposed on Gülşen Bayraktar Çolakoğlu, 46, who goes by the stage name “Gülşen,” was removed by an İstanbul court on Wednesday on condition that she pay bail of TL 250,000 ($13,400).

The court made its decision following an objection to the travel ban filed by the singer’s lawyer.

Gülşen was jailed on Aug. 25 on charges of “inciting hatred” with a quip about religious schools. She was released from pretrial detention on Aug. 29 and placed under house arrest for 15 days.

Although the singer made the joke on stage in April, it went viral on social media after being re-posted by a pro-government daily in August, leading to criminal charges being filed against her for inciting hatred and enmity among the public.

Gülşen, who faces a prison sentence of up to three years, appeared at the first hearing of her trial in an İstanbul court on Oct. 21. The court decided to remove the judicial probation measures, which required the singer to check in at a police station weekly, but kept the travel ban in place, although she had requested its removal because she can’t see her son, who is in Spain, or give concerts abroad.

Turkey’s penal code criminalizes the incitement of hatred and enmity towards various groups in society based on class, race, religion or sect, requiring a prison sentence in cases that lead to threats to public safety.

Gülşen had quipped that her guitarist’s “perversion” was rooted in his attendance at an imam-hatip school, which specializes in religious education combined with a modern curriculum.

The court rejected Gülşen’s request for her acquittal at the first hearing of her trial and adjourned the trial until Dec. 21.

Gülşen emerged in the 1990s, with her first video clip featuring her in pajamas. But with time her songs and videos became more risqué and overtly sexual.

This year, she dedicated her Elle Style “icon of the year” award to the LGBTQ movement.

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