Turkish fashion designer Barbaros Sansal, who was arrested in January in the north and deported to Turkey over comments he had made that were perceived to be insulting to the country, was given a suspended six-month prison sentence on Thursday.
Sansal, who posted a video on social media on New Year’s Eve criticising certain religious circles in Turkey and the Turkish government, was sentenced to six months and 20 days in prison, after being found guilty of public contempt of the Turkish nation and of the Republic of Turkey. His sentence was suspended.
The outspoken fashion designer is a critic of President Tayyip Erdogan. He often visits both northern Cyprus and the government-controlled areas, and was in the north when he posted his New Year video.
Press reports in the north had said that Turkey demanded Sansal’s arrest. Moments after landing at Ataturk airport following his deportation from the north, he was assaulted by an angry mob on the stairs of a plane.
In his video, Sansal mentioned journalists arrested in Turkey, corruption within the ruling AKP, abused children and murdered women and criticised the “bigoted” circles in Turkey which had spread “hate speech” against New Year celebrations.
Sansal said that he was in northern Cyprus and was going to welcome 2017, drink all he could, then go to the south of the island to enter 2017 once again, reminding listeners that the two sides on the island were in different time zones.
Much of his video was critical of fundamentalist circles in Turkey which, in the lead up to Christmas and New Year, had been spreading messages telling people that celebrating the New Year was a “Christian thing” and that those who celebrated it were infidels who sinned by consuming alcohol.