Turkish pop star Gulsen handed suspended prison sentence for religious schools joke

·1-min read

Pop star Gulsen has been handed a 10-month suspended prison sentence after being convicted of "inciting hatred and enmity" over a joke about Turkey's religious schools, state media has reported.

The singer-songwriter was briefly jailed in Turkey last August after a video of the comments that led to the conviction - which had been made four months earlier - surfaced on a website.

She said the "perversion" of one of her musicians came about as a result of attending a religious school.

The 46-year-old Turkish star, whose full name is Gulsen Colakoglu, was arrested on a charge of incitement to hatred.

Soon after the video emerged, she was jailed for five days and later spent 15 days under house arrest despite having apologised for any offence she caused.

Gulsen had vehemently rejected accusations that she aimed to "incite hatred".

She said during an April performance her comment "was a joke between two people" and apologised to anyone offended, adding her words were seized upon by some to polarise society.

On Wednesday, a court in Istanbul initially sentenced her to one year in prison, Anadolu Agency reported.

The court later reduced the sentence, citing her "respectful stance" during the trial. Gulsen will face prison if she reoffends within the next five years.

Read more on Sky News:
'Significant overhaul' of Oscars campaign rules after controversy

There was no immediate comment from the singer.

Lawyer Ziya Ilker Goktas reiterated the musician's comment was a joke and requested her acquittal, insisting "there was no crime".

Gulsen's arrest had sparked outrage amid accusations the singer was targeted over her support for LGBTQ+ rights and for holding liberal views that go against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party.