Turkish authorities have arrested former Miss Turkey, Merve Buyuksarac, 26, because she quoted a poem on social media that insults President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The arrest is the latest in a crackdown on free speech in Turkey that has worsened since two radical Islamists slaughtered twelve people at satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France.
Buyuksarac, an industrial designer and writer, quoted the poem “The Master’s Poem” from weekly humor magazine Uykusuz on her Facebook page. The poem criticizes “the president through verses adapted from Turkey’s national anthem.” She deleted the post after a friend warned her about the government’s intrusion on freedom of speech.
“I shared it because I found it funny,” she claimed. “I had no intention to insult (Erdogan).”
The model, who won the 2006 Miss Turkey pageant, has been released until her trial.
Almost 100% of Turkey’s population identifies as Muslim. Erdogan regularly makes public statements against Israel while shaking hands with Palestinian leaders and bashing the West, even though Turkey is a member of NATO. Erdogan has reacted to the Charlie Hebdo attack by pursuing those who express public solidarity with the magazine. Cumhuriyet, a newspaper that distributed a special Turkish edition of Charlie Hebdo, was raided the night of publication to ensure no cartoon depictions of Muhammad appeared on its cover. Erdogan blamed the West for the massacre at the newspaper.
“The West’s hypocrisy is obvious,” he said, adding:
As Muslims, we’ve never taken part in terrorist massacres. Behind these lie racism, hate speech and Islamophobia. Please, the administrations in those countries where our mosques are attacked need to take measures. Games are being played with the Islamic world, we need to be aware of this. French citizens carry out such a massacre, and Muslims pay the price. That’s very meaningful. … Doesn’t their intelligence organisation track those who leave prison?