An Istanbul court in Turkey on Tuesday, sentenced 27-year-old ex-beauty queen and model Merve Buyuksarac to one year and two months in prison for publicly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on social media.
According to a Dogan news agency report, Merve was sentenced after the court found her guilty of “publicly insulting” Erdogan in a satirical poem she posted on her Instagram account.
Buyuksarac won the Miss Turkey competition in 2006 and has since worked as a model as well as appearing on reality TV shows.
The “Master’s Poem” which was shared by the model while Erdogan was serving as prime minister criticizes the Turkish strongman with verses adapted from the national anthem.
After being briefly detained in January 2015, the former Miss Turkey admitted to sharing the poem which had been printed in a Turkish satirical magazine but said she never intended to insult the president.
Erdogan’s lawyer, Hatice Ozay, told the court that the model’s posts on social media cannot be considered criticism but rather was an attack on his client’s personal rights. Erdogan, who was elected president in August 2014 after serving as prime minister for more than a decade, is often called “Buyuk Usta” (the Big Master).
Number of cases had come up after Erdogan moved to the presidency in 2014 because in the past his predecessors rarely used the practice.
Quite a number of journalists as well as ordinary citizens have ended up in court for insulting or slandering Erdogan, who is accused by critics of being increasingly authoritarian. According to Turkish Justice Minister, Bekir Bozdag, almost 2,000 people in Turkey have been prosecuted for insulting Erdogan since he became president.
Ironically, Erdogan, who was a one time mayor of Istanbul, was imprisoned for four months in the late 1990s for reciting an Islamist poem that was deemed an incitement to religious hatred.