Expression Interrupted

Journalists and academics bear the brunt of the massive crackdown on freedom of expression in Turkey. Scores of them are currently subject to criminal investigations or behind bars. This website is dedicated to tracking the legal process against them.

Pop-star Gülşen appears before judge

Pop-star Gülşen appears before judge

Court lifted the obligation of giving signature at the nearest police station imposed as a judicial measure but kept the international travel ban in place in trial of Gülşen charged with “inciting the public to hatred and enmity”


The first hearing in the trial of singer Gülşen on charges of “inciting the public to hatred and enmity” was held at the İstanbul 11thCriminal Court of First Instance on 21 October 2022.

Gülşen and her lawyers attended the hearing, which P24 monitored. Several plaintiffs and their lawyers also attended the hearing.

Following identity checks, Gülşen presented her defense statement in which she denied the offense of which she is accused. She stated that the remarks which led to the charge were merely a joke with a player in her band during a concert. “I was on stage, and I wanted to mingle with the audience,” she continued, “Since this was not going to be possible in the crowd, I asked one of my band members on stage to carry me among the audience. Another band member on the stage said, ‘Let the imam carry you.’ It was a joke. ‘İmam’ is the nickname we use for another of our friends. Upon this, I responded with an unplanned and uncalculated joke. This was a dialogue between two people on stage. I did not target any class or segment of society. I did not say this out loud to the audience. Therefore, I did not commit the crime of inciting the public to hatred and hostility. I deny the crime of which I am accused. I have been made a target solely because of this dialogue between two people. Still, I apologize to anyone whose values I may have hurt.”

“A punishment for my very existence as Gülşen”

Gülşen recalled that the concert in question was on 30 April 2022. She said it was “rather meaningful” that the video was broadcast four months later. “I havee been the subject of verbal lynching and abuse several times because of my womanhood, body, accompanying people and dress. I have been marked as a target. Nevertheless, I have not refrained from freely expressing my emotions and thoughts. That joke on the stage was not a reflection or expression of my social concerns. Although what I said was not intended to be a statement or expression of opinion, it was made to look as if it was. I consider the timing and dissemination to be manipulative and indicative. It is indicative, because the concert in question was on 30 April, while the video was disseminated on 24 August. It took only a day for the video to be brought up four months later and for me to be placed in prison. I consider all this to be punishment for my existence as Gülşen.” The singer requested her acquittal.

“I have been deprived of my child and he has been deprived of me”

Gülşen stated that she had suffered material and moral damages and went on as follows: “Skipping the material part, I have had to pay a disproportionate price emotionally as well. I have been imprisoned for 20 days – 5 in prison and 15 under house arrest. The real captivity has been not being able to be with my child. My son has been going to school in Spain for three years and I am unable to live a mother-child relationship. I have been deprived of my 5-year-old child and he has been deprived of me. Because of the uncertainty of the situation, over 50 of my concerts have been cancelled. Because of the [international] travel ban, I cannot perform abroad. I want this unjust treatment to end for the sake of my family, my colleagues and everyone who wants justice.”

“Gülşen is a victim of the crime she is accused of”

Gülşen’s lawyer Emek Emre demanded immediate acquittal: “We are facing a trial which is a test of the rules of law. It is obvious that an immediate acquittal is required. Without a need to review evidence, the elements of the crime do not exist.”

Emre requested the person Gülşen is heard talking to on the video to be heard by the court as a witness. He also requested that the judicial control measure on his client be lifted and Gülşen be exempted from the hearings.

Gülşen’s attorney Celal Ülgen said, “My client has been treated as if she had committed a grave offense whereas she has not committed any crime. She has had to cancel many of her concerts. There is no point in applying the judicial control measures anymore. For this reason, we request them to be lifted.” Ülgen also stated that 130 out of the 702 plaintiffs had withdrawn their complaints.

Lawyer Altın Mimir said, “My client has not been involved in any action against the people who are here as plaintiffs. My client is a victim of the crime of which she is accused. We have filed a criminal complaint against an official of the New Welfare Party (Yeniden Refah Partisi), who has called for Gülşen to be killed, but no judicial sanction has been imposed.”

When their turn came, a number of plaintiffs and their lawyers took the floor and called for Gülşen to be convicted on the grounds that her statement was not sincere and she intended to avoid the consequences of the crime.

The prosecutor demanded that the request for immediate acquittal be rejected, the CD containing the video of the incident be analyzed by an expert, the request by the plaintiffs to act as co-plaintiffs be accepted in view of the possibility that they were harmed by the offense, and the judicial control measure be kept in place.

Responding to the opinion of the prosecution, Emek Emre stated that “İmam Hatip (religious high schools) graduates do not constitute a social class.” He explained the meaning of a social class in sociological terms. Lawyer Mimir said, “All the plaintiffs who have spoken have said that my client should be separated from her child. The judiciary is not the place to exact revenge.”

Ruling to exempt Gülşen from attending future hearings, the court lifted the judicial control measure obliging her to sign in the nearest police station on a weekly basis while keeping the international travel ban in place. Deciding to take up the requests to hear witnesses and join as co-plaintiffs at the next hearing, the court adjourned the trial until 21 December 2022.