The winner of Miss Turkey 2017 has been stripped of her crown after one of her past tweets came to light.
Itir Esen, 18, had shared a post referencing last year’s coup attempt, comparing her menstrual cycle to the spilt blood of “martyrs”, BBC reported on Friday.
The competition’s organisers said the tweet was “unacceptable” and confirmed their decision to dismiss her, just hours after she won.
Esen has since said, via Instagram, that she was not being political.
The tweet was posted around the first anniversary of the July 15 coup attempt, when nearly 250 people died fighting an army uprising.
She wrote: “I am having my period this morning to celebrate the July 15 martyrs’ day. I am celebrating the day by bleeding a representation of our martyrs’ blood.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan regularly refers to the “martyrs” who died resisting the coup.
The beauty pageant’s organisers said the tweet did not come to light until after Thursday’s ceremony in Istanbul, after which they held a long meeting to discuss the situation and verify the post.
On Friday, they released a statement to announce their decision to rescind her title: “We regret to say that this tweet has been tweeted by Itir Esen. It is not possible for the Miss Turkey Organisation to promote such a post, when it aims to introduce Turkey to the world and contribute to its image.”
Esen later responded with her own statement on social media: “I want to say that as a 18-year-old girl, I had no political aims while sharing this post.”
“I was raised with respect for the homeland and the nation,” she added, apologising for “being misunderstood”.
Runner-up Asli Sumen will now travel to China to represent Turkey in the Miss World competition.
Esen is not the first Miss Turkey to find herself embroiled in a political row.
In 2016, another past winner, Merve Buyuksarac, was given a 14-month suspended prison sentence for insulting President Erdogan via satirical poem she shared on social media.
Buyuksarac, who won the 2006 crown, was also briefly detained over the issue in 2015.
Around that time, President Erdogan launched thousands of lawsuits against people he said had insulted him.
He later withdrew them, saying he was inspired by the feelings of unity after the failed coup.
However, a harsh crackdown has continued, which the president insists is necessary for national security. More than 150,000 state employees have been dismissed and some 50,000 people arrested.