Turkish police detained four people after artwork depicting Islam’s holiest site viewed as offensive by Ankara was hung at an Istanbul university at the centre of recent protests, officials said on Saturday.
The four individuals were detained on suspicion of ‘openly denigrating the religious values adopted by a section of the public’, the governor’s office said.
The police were on the hunt for two others, it added, describing the artwork as an ‘ugly attack’ on Islam.
Turkish interior minister Suleyman Soylu said in a tweet on Saturday that ‘four LGBT deviants’ had been detained in comments which caused upset on social media.
The artwork, which according to the Istanbul governorate also included a rainbow flag, a symbol associated with the LGBT community, was hung opposite the rector’s office on Friday at Bogazici University, the governorate said, in a move swiftly condemned by Turkish officials.
The ‘disrespect’ shown to the Kaaba was ‘neither freedom of expression nor the right to protest’, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, tweeted.
He vowed on Saturday ‘this deviance will get the punishment it deserves before the law’.
There have been weeks of protests at the university against what protesters claim is the politically motivated appointment of the new rector, Melih Bulu, by Erdogan.
The Turkish president earlier this month accused some of those taking part of being ‘terrorists’.
While homosexuality has been legal throughout modern Turkey’s history, gay people often face harassment and abuse.
LGBT events were blocked in recent years including Istanbul Pride.
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