Turkish rapper fighting Erdogan: "I make him say the things he does"

Those who publicly criticize Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may find themselves behind bars. This is due to an article in the Criminal Code, which criminalizes the insults brought to the head of state. In reality, it is used against those who criticize police violence, the corruption of politicians and actions against the free press. There are accusations that rapper Orkun DK also faced. He says his lyrics are funny and satirical, but they are not the same for the Turkish president. Watch a “Focus Europa” report, a Digi24 project and Deutsche Welle. The show airs on Friday at 11:30 p.m., and resumes on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

In his home studio in Istanbul, rapper Orkun DK records new songs, even if he has problems because of the old ones.

“I like making music. And yes, in my lyrics I criticize what I think is not going well “, says the rapper.

Lawyers for the Turkish president have filed a criminal complaint against Orkun for one of his videos, in which, presenting a distorted photo of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he says: “Send me money”. There are a few swear words.

That’s why Orkun had to go to court. He was sentenced to 14 months in prison with suspension for insulting the president.

“I criticize Erdoğan for putting words in his mouth. I make him say the things he does. This is a criticism, not an insult. And, above all, it’s funny … But here in Turkey, everything is a problem now, as if everyone is paranoid. Anyone who hears a curse immediately thinks it’s a crime. People should relax … Not just the president, but everyone, ”says the rapper.

Orkun is 28 years old. He studied film in Istanbul, and now earns money with his rap songs. He is not a celebrity, although he is sometimes recognized on the street.

How an existing law was abused

But in Turkey, you don’t have to be a celebrity to be accused of insulting the president. Tens of thousands of people have gone through this in recent years. Adolescents and teachers, lawyers and members of the opposition.

Recently, the arrest of the well-known journalist Sedef Kabaș provoked public protests. She quoted an old saying on television: “When an ox enters the palace, it does not become king, but the palace becomes a barn.” Sentence: over 2 years in prison, with suspension.

The law criminalizing insulting the president existed long before Erdoğan, but was rarely used until he took power.

Between 2014 and 2020, Turkish authorities investigated more than 160,000 cases.

Almost a quarter of them went to court.

“It simply came to our notice then. It was used, you know. It is clear that Erdogan’s lawyers are checking social media for any mention of the president and are opening arbitrarily endless legal proceedings. It’s a message to society that they shouldn’t criticize. This has a daunting effect on everyone, ”said Emma Sinclair of Human Rights Watch.

What Erdogan’s party says

The party’s colleagues reject the accusation. Adem Yildirim is the deputy head of the AKP, Erdogan’s party, in power in Istanbul. He believes that the number of insults has increased a lot because more and more people are using social networks, and the president does not have to bear everything.

“The way we look at political leaders may be different from other European countries. We do not despise our heads of state. After all, they are elected by the people. You can criticize the president as much as you want, but you can’t insult him. This will not be tolerated, “he said Adem Yildirim, AKP’s deputy chairman.

The rapper Orkun DK sometimes spends more time with the lawyer than in his studio. They appealed the sentence.

“They couldn’t even tell us which lyrics of Orkun’s songs were considered offensive. We told them to show us, but the prosecutor only replied: The insult is in the lyrics … It’s just unthinkable to send someone to jail these days because of a song, ”he says. Ali Gül, Orkun DK’s lawyer.

Orkun says he doesn’t want to be intimidated.

“Many young people here in Turkey no longer dare to say or write anything critical. They are afraid. But not everyone is afraid. I’m not afraid. I will continue. But the pressure is growing, everyone here feels it “, confesses Orkun DK.

Whatever the end result of his case, Orkun will probably sing a rap song about this one day.

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