Gülşen Bayraktar Çolakoğlu, nicknamed the Turkish Madonna, has been under house arrest since August 29 for joking about religious high schools. The case occupied the front page of Turkish newspapers for a week. For the opposition, this is a political maneuver a few months before the presidential election.

Gülşen : A star placed in detention

“He is perverse because he attended a religious high school,” Turkish singer Gülşen Bayraktar Çolakoğlu joked about one of her musicians during a concert on April 30. On August 25, the video was published on pro-government media, provoking the ire of conservative circles, including government spokesman Ömer Çelik. The same day, following an express procedure, the 46-year-old pop star was imprisoned in Istanbul for incitement to hatred. After four days of detention, she was placed under house arrest. She apologized for “this joke between colleagues”, while denouncing a controversy aimed at “polarizing society”.

The conservative media welcomed an “exemplary decision”. “You’re the perverse”, headlined the daily Yeni Akit, which called her “exhibitionist”, “promoting homosexuality”. “Someone stop this woman”, had already headlined the daily on August 13, the day after a concert in Istanbul where she had hoisted the LGBT flag. A few days later, Yeni Akit published a list of “pro-LGBT” singers. These attacks on secular artists are on the increase, less than a year from the presidential election. Fourteen festivals have been canceled in the past four months by local authorities. In opposition, the Republican People’s Party sees the bans as a way to attract votes from a conservative electorate disappointed by the ruling Justice and Development Party’s handling of the economic crisis.

Called “the girl in pajamas” after one of her first music videos in which she wandered the streets of Istanbul in men’s pajamas, Gülsen was discovered by a couple of producers in 1996, while performing in a bar. . The young singer made the “one” of the tabloids with her flash marriages, her relationships with married producers and her setbacks with her record companies. In 2004, his title Of… Of… was voted song of the year. And the clip of Sarişinim (“my blonde”), in which the pop star appears in a transparent dress, is censored by the local CSA. Gülşen becomes a target for Islamists and an icon for secularists.

If this mother of a 5-year-old boy expresses her secular positions in some of her tweets, it is her outfits that show her as a free woman. Lace pants revealing her thongs, bare belly… Gülşen is the new Turkish Madonna. This assumed nudity is almost political in the country of Erdoğan. In 2018, during a concert in Ordu (by the Black Sea), she invited the presenter who had asked her in private to “pull up her socks before the mayor arrives”, to repeat “his shameful remarks” in front of 65,000 spectators. On August 13, to those who criticized her red bra and skin-tight pants, she recommended “let go of mothers boobs because there are other things to be ashamed of.”



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