Turkish cartoonist jailed for insulting religious leader

On June 12, 2014, Mehmet Düzenli, a cartoonist, was taken into custody to begin serving a three-month prison term he was given after being convicted of insulting controversial religious leader and TV figure Adnan Oktar (also known as Harun Yahya) in his drawings. The daily pro-opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet reported that Düzenli was convicted by the 2nd Penal Court of Peace in Serik, Antalya province, on April 10, 2014. Düzenli is serving his term at Alanya Prison in the Alanya district of Antalya, the reports said.

According to the local press, some of Düzenli’s drawings criticized Oktar’s preachings and called them overzealous. The reports did not specify which cartoons were deemed offensive.

Düzenli said he preferred to serve his sentence than have it suspended on the condition that he did not repeat his alleged offense, as provisioned by Turkey’s penal code. “I did not want my sentence to be delayed, so that I can draw freely. I believe there is freedom of thought and expression in Turkey,” Düzenli told the Dogan News Agency.

Oktar has not commented publicly on the case.