Turkish prison investigates inmate for referencing religious figures in letter

The authorities in Ankara have launched an investigation into inmate Şerafettin Demir on accusations of disseminating terrorist propaganda in a letter containing references to prominent figures in Islamic history, the Kronos news website reported on Tuesday.

Demir is under investigation for mentioning Hasan and Husayn, grandsons of the Prophet Muhammad, and Caliph Yazid I along with the Prophet Moses and Pharaoh. He is accused of spreading propaganda on behalf of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

In Islamic cultures, these figures are often associated with oppression since the grandsons of the Prophet Muhammad were murdered by the Umayyad Caliphate, and the Israelites were persecuted in Egypt under the pharaohs during the time of Moses.

Behind bars since 2011, Demir is serving an aggravated life sentence. He was put in solitary confinement for 13 days over the content of the letter.

The prison administration has also confiscated the manuscript of a book he has authored due to its contents.

The PKK is an armed separatist group designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

It is common for the Kurds in Turkey to be accused of disseminating propaganda on behalf of the PKK, due to remarks or social media commentary involving criticism of the government or security forces.

Turkey’s anti-terror laws are often criticized by human rights groups and international organizations for being overly broad, allowing too much room for interpretation.

Turkey was ranked 117th among 142 countries in the rule of law index published by the World Justice Project (WJP) in 2023.

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