Lawyer gets suspended sentence due to remarks on Islamic law

Lawyer Feyza Altun

An İstanbul court has handed down a nine-month suspended sentence to a lawyer on conviction of inciting hatred and enmity among the people with her remarks on Islamic law, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Anka news agency.

Feyza Altun was briefly detained in February for allegedly insulting Sharia religious law due to a tweet in which she said, “F*** Sharia” in response to a comment on a Persian poem she posted on X that said, “Feyza seems to have had a Sharia attack,” a play on the phrase “panic attack.”

Altun deleted the post after being targeted on social media, with users launching a campaign with the hashtag “#feyzaaltuntutuklansın” (Feyza Altun should be arrested.)

She was indicted by İstanbul prosecutors under Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which says whoever openly incites segments of the society to enmity or hatred towards another group based on social class, race, religion or sectarian or regional differences in a manner that may present a clear and imminent danger to public safety shall be sentenced to imprisonment of between one and three years.

Altun, who spoke to reporters following the decision of the Beykoz 5th Penal Court of First Instance in front of the courthouse on Thursday, said she would appeal her sentence at a higher court.

She lamented that the female prosecutor, who she said was able to rise to the position of a public prosecutor thanks the secular rule in Turkey, demanded the maximum sentence for her after Altun said she had no regrets about her remarks.

Due to the lack of remorse, the court made no reduction in her sentence.

In her testimony to prosecutors, Altun said she defines Sharia as a “political regime” and not a body of religious law. She said she is against Sharia and stands by her words.

In the past few years, prosecutors have taken action against thousands of people in Turkey under Article 216 of the TCK, which is feared to be mostly used to silence dissent.

Many said the lawyer was being punished by the Islamic-rooted ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) simply for defending secularism, one of the principles of the Turkish Republic enshrined in the constitution.

The results of a study by the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV) indicate that the Turkish population favors a secular and democratic government. In 2016, 75 percent of participants expressed a desire to live in a secular state, a figure that rose to 81 percent in 2020. Similarly, a significant segment of the population is satisfied with living in a democratic country. The proportion of those who prefer a legal system based on Sharia law fell from 22 percent in 2016 to 17 percent in 2020.

Take a second to support Stockholm Center for Freedom on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!