A 17-year-old high school student in İstanbul was arrested following the circulation of a video on social media showing him performing a lewd act with a picture of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey.
The İstanbul Governor’s Office confirmed his detention earlier on Wednesday, stating that the teenager engaged in an obscene act with a photo of Atatürk on video. Authorities identified the person as 17-year-old A.E.S. who was arrested by a court later in the day.
This arrest comes under Law 5816, “The Law Concerning Crimes Committed Against Atatürk,” which safeguards “the memory of Atatürk” from insult by any Turkish citizen. Violation of this law can result in imprisonment for up to three years.
This event follows a similar incident on Sept. 11, when a 16-year-old was arrested for vandalizing an Atatürk monument with spray paint.
The frequent prosecutions in Turkey under the banner of protecting Atatürk’s memory shed light on the general problem of restrictions on freedom of expression, as numerous individuals face daily legal consequences for expressing opinions on topics considered “taboo” in Turkey, including criticism of Atatürk and government actions.