Merve Buyuksarac, an industrial designer, writer, and former Miss Turkey, has been punished with a 14-month suspended sentence for “insulting” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. To earn the sentence, Buyuksarac reportedly shared a quote from a satirical poem on her Instagram account in 2014.
The verse in question, entitled “The Master’s Poem,” was published in satirical magazine Uykusuz and used lyrics from the Turkish national anthem to mock Erdogan, but does not mention the president by name.
The Independent reports that Erdogan has repeatedly taken advantage of an archaic defamation law that prohibits insulting the president; he has filed almost 2,000 defamation cases since taking office in 2014. The cases have been launched against journalists, academics, and even children.
From the AP:
Erdogan caused an uproar last month when, on the basis of an archaic German law that criminalizes insulting foreign heads of state, he went after a German comedian who mocked him in a profanity-packed poem.
Erdogan rejects accusations of growing authoritarianism. He also denies curbs on freedom of expression, citing what he says are large numbers of offensive articles against him and his family as proof.
“These insult trials are being initiated in series, they are being filed automatically,” [her lawyer Emre] Telci told the Associated Press by telephone after the verdict. “Merve was prosecuted for sharing a posting that did not belong to her. My client has been convicted for words that do not belong to her.”
In court, Buyuksarac, 27, told a prosecutor, according to the Telegraph: “I don’t precisely recall the content I have shared on my Instagram account. However, I might have taken excerpts from Twitter, other social media websites or the cartoon magazine Uykusuz.”
“I did not personally adapt the poem titled, ‘The Poem of the Chief.’ I shared it because it was funny to me. I did not intend to insult Recep Tayyip Erdogan.”
Image of Merve Buyuksarac via Getty.