Two Turkish caricaturists have been fined for insulting President Tayyip Erdogan after a court ruled that one of their cartoons implied he was gay, local media said on Wednesday.
Bahadir Baruter and Ozer Aydogan were prosecuted for an illustration on the front page of satirical magazine Penguen last August in which an official greeted Erdogan while apparently making a circle with his thumb and forefinger.
Prosecutors launched the indictment after a citizen complained that the hand signal, commonly used in Turkey to insult homosexuals, was against the country’s moral values.
Lawyers representing Erdogan then got involved in the case, demanding that the court punish the cartoonists for “insulting a public official,” Hurriyet newspaper reported.
Penguen had no immediate comment, but the cartoonists were quoted by Hurriyet as denying the charges and saying no such implication was intended.
They were initially sentenced to 11 months in prison but the court immediately reduced this to a 7,000 lira ($2,740) fine because of good conduct during the trial.
Erdogan, who brooks little dissent, has dominated politics for more than a decade in Sunni Muslim Turkey, where homosexuality is widely frowned upon.
Others to fall foul of his sensitivities include a former Miss Turkey winner, who is facing a possible jail term for allegedly insulting him on social media, and a 13-year old boy who was this month questioned over a Facebook post.