Recep Tayyip Erdoğan - Imprisonment in 1998

Imprisonment in 1998

Before his conviction, the Welfare Party was declared unconstitutional and was shut down by the Turkish constitutional court on the grounds of threatening the laicistic order in Turkey. Erdoğan became a constant speaker at the demonstrations held by his party colleagues.

He was given a ten month prison sentence (of which he served less than four months, from 24 March 1999 to 27 July 1999) for reciting a poem in Siirt in December 1997, which, under article 312/2 of the Turkish penal code was regarded as an incitement to commit an offense and incitement to religious or racial hatred. It included verses translated as "The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers...." The aforementioned verses, however, are not in the original version of the poem. The poem was from a work written by Ziya Gökalp, a pan-Turkish activist of the early 20th century. Erdoğan claimed the poem had been approved by the education ministry to be published in textbooks. With the conviction, Erdoğan was forced to give up his mayoral position. The conviction also stipulated a political ban, which prevented him from participating in parliamentary elections. He completed his sentence on 24 July 1999.

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