A Dutch-Turkish rapper has been sentenced to over four years in prison in Turkey after a court ruled that his music encouraged cannabis use, even though the drug is tolerated in the Netherlands.
The rapper, who performs under the stage name Murda and who has 478,000 followers on Instagram, was the target of a lawsuit alleging that certain lyrics in his songs ‘Duman’, ‘Pahali’ and ‘Eh Baba’ encouraged the use of drugs or stimulants.
In the indictment against the rapper, whose real name is Onder Dogan, the Turkish prosecution service demanded a prison sentence of five to 10 years for the crime of ‘encouraging the use of drugs’ – apparently unconcerned that cannabis use is tolerated in the Netherlands.
An arrest warrant was issued, and Murda was detained after he entered Turkey via Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport in October last year. He was taken to the prosecutor’s office and then released with a ban on leaving the country.
But Murda had already managed to return to the Netherlands and was recording a new album when the Istanbul Criminal Court of First Instance sentenced him to four years and two months in prison.
In an Instagram post yesterday (Tuesday, 19th April) that had been viewed over 3.7 million times at the time of writing, the 38-year-old wrote: “I just received a phone call from my lawyer because he went to court for me today.
“Unfortunately I received bad news. The judge said that I’m guilty and charged me with four years and two months.
“There is a lot going on in my head and there are a lot of things that I want to say. I made some songs back in the days. These songs were released and they reached millions of people.
“I performed these songs for my audience in concerts and my fans sang all the songs with me. We laughed and danced together to all these songs. The songs are also loved by people that don’t speak the Turkish language.
“Those people started to sing/rap Turkish words after listening to my music. A beautiful thing that ends up getting such ugly results is a sad thing.
“The judge thinks that, because of these songs, my daughter deserves to grow up without her father for four years and two months. Same goes for my family. I will never understand or agree with this. Very sad.”
In a separate statement, Murda denied any guilt, saying: “I grew up in the Netherlands. I grew up with the culture there. These substances are free to use there.
“That’s why I didn’t think it was like that here. Rap songs are akin to street jargon. There is a very subtle nuance. It was not said to incite anyone to crime.”
Contrary to popular belief, cannabis remains illegal in the Netherlands. However, it is decriminalised for personal use, and recreational consumption of the substance is tolerated. It is famously available in the country’s famed coffeeshops.
Murda intends to appeal the sentence.