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Turkish lawyer detained for insulting Islamic law on social media

A Turkish lawyer has been detained for insulting Sharia, the religious law that is part of the Islamic tradition, on social media platform X, the Cumhuriyet daily reported.

An investigation was launched into lawyer Feyza Altun after she said “F*** Sharia” in response to a comment on a Persian poem she posted on X, which said “Feyza seems to have a Sharia attack,” referring to the phrase “panic attack.”

The lawyer deleted the post after being targeted on social media, with users initiating a campaign with the hashtag “#feyzaaltuntutuklansın” (Feyza Altun should be arrested.)

The Beykoz Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched the probe based on Article 216 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which says whoever openly incites segments of the society to enmity or hatred towards another group based on social class, race, religion or sectarian or regional differences in a manner that may present a clear and imminent danger to public safety shall be sentenced to imprisonment of from one to three years.

“The discussions regarding the regime in Turkey concluded on October 29, 1923,” Altun said on her X account on Monday, referring to the foundation of the Republic of Turkey by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

She also noted that she has never written and never will write anything even remotely offensive about any belief since religious belief is a personal choice that doesn’t concern her.

“For me, what you call Sharia is the Taliban mentality that stones women in the streets. In this context, I stand by my words. … Advocating for Sharia is a threat to the constitutional order and is a crime,” the lawyer added.

Altun, speaking to Cumhuriyet, said that she defines Sharia as a “political regime” and not a religious phenomenon.

“Therefore, I am against Sharia, and I stand by my words,” she added.

In the past few years, prosecutors have taken action against thousands of people in Turkey under Article 216 of the TCK, which is feared to be mostly used to silence dissent.

The results of a study by the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV) indicate that the Turkish population favors a secular and democratic government. In 2016, 75 percent of participants expressed a desire to live in a secular state, a figure that rose to 81 percent in 2020. Similarly, a significant proportion of the population is satisfied with living in a democratic country. The proportion of those who prefer a legal system based on Sharia law fell from 22 percent in 2016 to 17 percent in 2020.

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