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Miss Turkey loses title for a tweet too far

She was set to represent Turkey at the Miss World competition in China. But organizers of the Miss Turkey pageant changed their minds after finding an old tweet about last year's failed military coup.

Miss Turkey 2017 was stripped of her crown on Friday after organizers of the beauty pageant discovered one of her tweets on social media they considered offensive to the memory of 250 people killed last year resisting the failed military coup.

18-year-old Itir Esen compared her own menstrual bleeding with the blood shed by civilians who had opposed the Turkish military's attempt to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the first anniversary of the coup.

"I got my period on the morning of the July 15 martyrs' day. I'm marking the day by bleeding as a representation of the martyrs' blood," she wrote in a tweet.

The organizers of the Miss Turkey said the posting was "unacceptable" and revoked Esen's title one day after she had won the contest and the right to represent Turkey at the Miss World contest to be held in China later this year.

"It is not possible for the Miss Turkey Organization, whose aim is to promote Turkey worldwide and to contribute to its image, to accept such a posting," said Miss Turkey organization head Can Sandikcioglu.

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Organizers handed the title to runner-up Asli Sumen, who will now represent Turkey at Miss World on November 18.

Esen posted a message on Instagram describing her tweet as "carelessly" written and apologizing for any misunderstanding. "I want to say that as [an] 18-year-old girl, I had no political aims while sharing this post," she wrote.

Another Miss Turkey winner was accused in 2015 of posting insulting messages on social media. State prosecutors charged Merve Buyuksarac, who won the 2006 competition, with insulting President Erdogan. A court in Istanbul sentenced Buyuksarac to 14 months in prison in 2016, but the sentence was later suspended.

President Erdogan's government has recently prosecuted thousands of people for posting content they say is offensive to the Turkish leader. Opposition activists say the actions are part of a larger crackdown by the government against free expression in the country.

amp/kl (AP, AFP, dpa)

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