Miss Turkey Convicted Of Insulting Her President On Instagram

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues his crackdown on social media and mean poems.

Merve Buyuksarac backstage at a 2013 fashion show. — Getty Images
May 31, 2016 at 9:52 AM ET

A model and former Miss Turkey narrowly avoided prison after being convicted of insulting a public official. Her crime: quoting a satirical poem about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on her Instagram account.

Merve Buyuksarac, who represented Turkey in the Miss World pageant in 2006, shared “The Master’s Poem,” from a Turkish humor publication called Uykusuz, back in 2014. She deleted it after a friend told her sharing the quote could be a crime, according to the Telegraph, but it was too late: In January 2015, she was questioned by police over the post, and the next month she was indicted.

On Tuesday, she was sentenced to a suspended sentence of 14 months—relatively lucky, as she could have gotten up to four years. As long as she doesn’t “re-offend” in the next five years, she will stay out of jail.

Buyuksarac has said that she shared the poem—which, she said, was shared by nearly a million other people in Turkey—because she “found it funny.” She said she had “no intention” of insulting Erdogan. But she did, because Erdogan finds a lot of things insulting, especially poems and things on social media. Erdogan is currently trying to have a German comedian prosecuted for an insulting poem that appeared on German television. He has banned Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube at times.

Buyuksarac’s lawyer told the Associated Press that he will appeal the verdict to the European Union’s Court of Justice.

As of March 2016, 1,845 criminal cases have been opened against Turkish citizens for insulting Erdogan since he became president in August 2014. Children, academics, journalists, and doctors who share share memes comparing Erdogan to Gollum have all been targeted by Erdogan’s crackdown on things that hurt his feelings.