A former Miss Turkey has been convicted of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a social media post. Merve Buyuksarac, 27, has been found guilty of insulting a public official and given a 14-month suspended sentence by a court. She will be sent to jail if she does anything that qualifies as “reoffending” in the next five years.
Buyuksarac, who won the Miss Turkey contest in 2006, was briefly detained for sharing a satirical poem on her Instagram account in 2014. It was a satirical adaptation of the Turkish national anthem and was called ‘The Master’s Poem.’ Thousands of others had also posted the poem. It reportedly criticized the then Prime Minister Erdoğan.
According to the Associated Press, her lawyer, Emre Telci, said he would file a formal objection to the verdict and appeal her case at the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg, France.
The Independent reported that Buyuksarac was quoted as saying at the time: “I shared it because I found it funny. I had no intention to insult President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.”
Erdoğan has filed close to 2,000 defamation cases since he became president in 2014. The cases are based on a previously seldom-used law that bars insulting the president. These trials have primarily targeted journalists, academics and the opposition, but cases like Buyuksarac's show the inclusion of less political elements in the list.
Turkey is being steered into a presidential form of government. Many free speech advocates and international observers claim that the routine clamping down on the freedoms of citizens has taken the status of an ideal Muslim democracy away from Turkey.