Famous Turkish singer and actress Zuhal Olcay has been sentenced to 10 months in jail for insulting Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan during a performance in 2016.
She had reportedly changed the lyrics of one of her songs and incorporated Erdogan’s name in to it and even made an insulting gesture while she sang, a local newspaper reported.
Video from the performance showed Olcay changing her song’s lyrics to read “Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it’s all empty, it’s all a lie, life will end one day and you’ll say ‘I had a dream’,” the newspaper said.
However, the star denied the reports and said that she used the name only because it fit the rhyme scheme and she never intended to insult him. Speaking about the gesture, she said that it was aimed at an audience member.
According to reports, she was slapped with a fine of 10,620 lira ($2,708) for “insulting a public servant” in 2010.
Turkey has a strict law when it comes to insulting the President and it can go up to four years in prison. Erdogan’s legal team has so far registered more than 1800 cases against people, including cartoonists, a former Miss Turkey winner and school children on accusations of insulting him.
Meanwhile, another star, Enes Kanter, a Turkish basketball player in the US NBA team Ney York Knocks, is also facing a similar trial.
Following the 2016 failed coup, Erdogan said he would drop outstanding suits, in a one-off gesture, but several new cases have since emerged.
The Rights groups and various western governments have expressed their concern that Turkey is turning into authoritarianism, criticising a crackdown which saw some 150,000 people sacked or suspended from their jobs and more than 50,000 jailed pending trial on suspicion of links to the failed coup.
However, the Turkish government believes that such stern measures are necessary in order to maintain stability and defend Turkey from multiple security threats.