Turkish court rules to keep woman who insulted Atatürk in prison

Safiye İnci

A Turkish court on Thursday ruled for a continuation of the imprisonment of a woman who was arrested for allegedly insulting Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, at his mausoleum in July.

The woman, Safiye İnci, attended a hearing at the Ankara 28th Penal Court of First Instance on Thursday where she requested her release.

When asked by judge Pınar Ergut whether she remembers the remarks she made about Atatürk, İnci said: “I did not mean to insult. It happened all of a sudden. I don’t exactly remember what I said there.” She also said she regrets making those remarks.

In a video İnci sent to her friend that was later posted on social media in July, İnci says: “I am very embarrassed for having come here [to Atatürk’s mausoleum]. I wish I had not come. I am here because people insisted. I do not love Atatürk. It was not Atatürk who saved Turkey.”

In the video İnci also compares Atatürk with current Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and says, “Atatürk cannot even be the sh*t of Erdoğan.”

The woman’s video caused a storm of public outrage after her friend posted it on social media. The Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into İnci as a result of which she was put in pre-trial detention.

On Thursday the Ankara court rejected the woman’s request for release and ruled to keep her in pre-trial detention. An article in the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) protects Atatürk’s memory, stipulating one to three years in prison for explicit insults of him.

Thousands have been prosecuted for insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, including journalists, authors, politicians, a famous football player and even high school students. The charge carries a sentence of up to four years in prison.

Hundreds of people in Turkey, even including high school students, face charges of insulting President Erdoğan. The slightest criticism is considered an insult, and there has been a rise in the number of cases in which people inform on others claiming that they insulted the president, the government or government officials.

Moreover, according to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency on July 21, police teams under the command of the cybercrime unit determined the existence of 126,000 social media accounts related to alleged terrorist organizations in the last two years.

The report said about 50,000 out of 68,000 profiled social media accounts that allegedly posted pro-coup messages in the wake of a coup bid in July 2016 belong to alleged members of the Gülen movement.

According to the report, 17,000 of the social media accounts are allegedly linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), while a thousand of them are said to be connected to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

It was also claimed that 60 percent of social media posts believed to be supportive of “terrorist organizations” have been made by alleged members of the Gülen movement. The Turkish government led by President Erdoğan has labeled the pacifist Gülen movement as a “terrorist organization,” calling it “FETÖ.” (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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