Former Miss Turkey Sentenced for Instagramming Poem About President Erdoğan

June 1, 2016 Updated: October 5, 2018

Miss Turkey 2006, Merve Büyüksaraç, was sentenced to 14 months in prison on May 31 for posting a poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on her Instagram.

Büyüksaraç’s sentence has been suspended under the condition she won’t repeat the offense for 5 years.

The poem, titled “The poem of the chief,” was originally published by the Turkish satirical magazine Uykusuz, according to The Washington Post.

The poem uses lines from the Turkish national anthem and slips in satirical remarks about Erdoğan.

The poem makes references to the 2013 corruption scandal in Turkey. Over 50 people connected with the ruling Justice and Development Party were detained in December 2013. Prosecutors accused 14 people, including family members of cabinet ministers, of bribery, corruption, fraud, money laundering, and gold smuggling, according to a Foreign Policy report.

One of the accused, Suleyman Aslan, the CEO of the state-owned Halkbank, allegedly had $4.5 million in cash stashed in shoeboxes in his home.

Later, a recording surfaced where Erdoğan instructed his son Bilal to get rid of tens of millions of dollars from their home. Erdoğan dismissed the recording as fabricated, but multiple experts disagreed, according to Today’s Zaman.

Erdoğan reacted to the scandal by dismissing thousands of police officers, prosecutors, and judges. He also tightened the government’s control over judiciary.

A 2015 post on Turkish social site claims to show the poem that got Büyüksaraç into trouble.

The poem refers to the above-mentioned recording of Erdoğan’s conversation with his son. It also says “who would be crazy enough to judge me,” possibly referring to Erdoğan’s police and judiciary purge.

The poem also accuses the president of stealing, bribery, and corruption. There seem to be no reports on Erdoğan’s personal involvement in any of these.

Büyüksaraç said she shared lines from the poem because she thought it was “funny.” She said she didn’t want to insult the president and has since deleted the post.

However, the president’s lawyer said the post went beyond criticism and attacked Erdoğan’s “personal rights.”

Since Erdoğan switched from Prime Minister to president in 2014, prosecutors have opened over 1,800 investigations into insults of the president, a crime punishable by up to 4 years in jail in Turkey.

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