Outcry, arrests in Turkey over Mecca poster with LGBT flags

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ISTANBUL — Two students have been arrested in Turkey on charges of inciting hatred and insulting religious values for a poster depicting Islam’s most sacred site with LGBT flags.

Their arrest late Saturday came after top Turkish officials slammed the poster, displayed at an exhibition in Turkey’s most prestigious Bogazici University. For weeks, students and faculty have been protesting the Turkish president’s appointment of a new rector with links to his ruling party and clashes have broken out with police.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu tweeted that “LGBT perverts” had been detained for “disrespecting the Great Kaaba.” Top government officials from Turkey’s conservative, Islamic-based ruling party condemned the poster.

The Kaaba in Mecca is the holiest site in Islam with believers across the world praying in its direction.

The poster placed a mythical creature of half-woman and half-snake found in Middle Eastern folklore on the site of worship along with the flags of LGBT, lesbian, trans and asexual people. The text below said the artwork was a critique of traditional gender roles.

Istanbul’s governor office said five people were initially detained and police were seeking two more suspects. One person was released, two put under house arrest and two were jailed pending trial.

The Associated Press