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article imageFormer Miss Turkey posts poem criticizing Erdoğan, gets arrested

By Megan Hamilton     Jan 24, 2015 in World
Istanbul - After posting a satirical poem on social media that criticized her country's president, Merve Büyüksaraç, a former Miss Turkey, was arrested and is awaiting trial later this year.
She has been released on bail.
Büyüksaraç's arrest is just part of the ongoing crackdown on the social media in Turkey that has been stirred anew in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, The Daily Mail reports.
Last week, armed Turkish police stopped delivery trucks as they were leaving a newspaper's offices in an effort to make sure that they hadn't included sections of the French satirical magazine that might be offensive to Muslims.
In a country where 99.8 percent of the population is registered as Muslim, there has been heated debate over freedom of speech in the wake of the Paris shootings.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has become well-known for his censuring of journalists and the social media, so he is apparently no fan of freedom of expression, BBC News reports. Recently he verbally backhanded the European Union after it criticized the recent mass arrest of opposition journalists.
"The EU should mind its own business and keep its own opinions to itself," Erdoğan said. He then denied that the raids had infringed on press freedom. Some 24 journalists closely tied to a cleric based in the U.S. have been incarcerated for plotting to seize power. The raids, which occurred last December, targeted the newspaper Zaman and Samanyolu TV channel.
Erdoğan famously managed to ban Twitter briefly in his country while he was still Prime Minister, so it's not surprising that Büyüksaraç , 26, found herself in trouble.
The alleged poem that got her in trouble is "The Master's Poem," which evidently criticizes Erdogan and uses the country's national anthem in its verses, The Independent reports.
"I shared it because I found it funny. I had no intention to insult then-President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan," she said.
Later, while she was on social media, she told followers she had been called to answer questions about the post after complaints.
Last October, Erdoğan defended his government's efforts to censor online speech, and told a press freedom conference That he was "increasingly against the Internet every day," The Independent reports. Various leaders in Turkey have also criticized media outlets for "polarizing and distorting coverage of recent events" especially the Gezi Park anti-government rallies. Last week Turkey blocked access to some online news sites for republishing the cover of Charlie Hebdo's latest issue. It features the prophet Muhammad, The New York Post reports.
Merve, an industrial designer and writer, wound up in court flanked by armed guards and nervously said she "may have quoted a poem" from the weekly, the Post reports. She added that she deleted the post quickly when a friend warned her that it could result in criminal charges.
Prosecutor Vedat Yigit wanted her kept under "judicial control" before the next hearing, but the judge released her from custody pending trial.
More about former miss turkey, miss turkey arrested for posting poem, Merve Byksara,, Recep Tayyip Erdoan, the daily mail
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