Speaking out

Former Miss Turkey says president has launched a ‘policy of intimidation’

Former Miss Turkey, Merve Buyuksara
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The former Miss Turkey pageant winner who was convicted on Monday of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan now says she has “lost faith” in the country’s justice system after the “intimidation” she faced. Merve Büyüksaraç posted a satirical poem to Twitter that drew the ire of the president, who has prosecuted some 2,000 other individuals for allegedly insulting the president in recent years as part of a crackdown on freedoms in the country. Büyüksaraç, a model who was crowned Miss Turkey in 2006, said she still thought the poem was “really witty and funny” and noted that it was shared 96,000 times on social media.

“We have seen that in Turkey you are tried as though you have insulted [someone], whether or not you actually did,” Büyüksaraç told the Turkish website of Russia’s state news agency Sputnik “It all seems planned. A policy of intimidation by picking someone famous and [saying] ‘this is what will happen to you if one of you share something like this,’” she said.

Büyüksaraç was handed a suspended sentence of one year, two months, and 17 days. But she did not back down from again criticizing the president when asked about his comments over the weekend that no Muslim women should use birth control. She said Erdogan’s comments were “extremely ugly statements.”

“They already meddle with everything [we do]. I guess the only thing left was our reproduction,” she added.

Read the full story at Hurriyet Daily News.

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