High Turkish official: there should be no female laughter in public

July 31, 2014 • 8:09 am

I love Turkey. I’ve been there several times, for both touristic and academic visits, and have found the people friendly, the scenery incomparable, and the food fantastic (is there any better confection than pistachio baklava?). The Muslim students with whom I’ve interacted have been amiable, but I’ve interacted only with the ones attending Middle East Technical University, where the headscarf (hijab) is banned and Muslim women like it that way.

Kemal Atatürtk’s attempts to secularize the country were largely successful—but now appear to be going astray as Islam begins to creep into one of the nations harboring less extreme forms of Islam.  There are recurrent attempts to lift the ban on headscarves, which have been successful for women in government  jobs, and creationism is making deeper inroads thanks to Adnan Okstar (Harun Yahya) and his band of thugs. Censorship is increasing, as the government—ultimately without success—tried to block Twitter and YouTube. 

St. Paul famously said that women should remain silent in Church, but now Bülent Arınç has said that Turkish women shouldn’t laugh out loud in public. Who is Arınç? He’s the deputy prime minister of Turkey.

As the Independent reports:

Women should not laugh in public in Turkey, the Deputy Prime Minister has said in a speech on “moral corruption” in the country.

Bülent Arınç used a meeting for Eid al-Fitr on Monday to condemn perceived moral regression, consumerism and even excessive mobile phone use.

He called for chastity in both men and women and blamed television and the media for turning teenagers into “sex addicts”, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.

“[The man] will not be a womaniser. He will be bound to his wife. He will love his children. [The woman] will know what is haram and not haram. She will not laugh in public. She will not be inviting in her attitudes and will protect her chasteness,” Mr Arınç said according to the paper.

He called for Turkish people to rediscover the Koran and stop moral regression.

“Where are our girls, who slightly blush, lower their heads and turn their eyes away when we look at their face, becoming the symbol of chastity?” he said.

Jebus! If you go to Istanbul and see it pullulating with life, the biggest city in an Islamic country where Islam doesn’t dictate everyone’s actions, you’d see how stupid these strictures sound.  Blushing women with lowered heads? Women not laughing? That’s not the Turkey I know, nor the one Atatürk wanted.  Rediscovering the Qur’an is the last thing they need!

There are more signs of retrograde activity; this is due not to culture but to religion:

Turkey has historically been more progressive with women’s rights than neighbouring countries but recent changes and continuing problems with wage gaps, child brides, honour killings and domestic violence have prompted concerns by activists that the country is slipping backwards.

Although abortion is legal up to 10 weeks, the Prime Minister has spoken out against terminations and floated plans to restrict the law.

It is sad to se Atatürk’s reforms being undone bit by bit, and a great country in danger of turning into Saudi Arabia. I’d hate to think of my Turkish friends—the women (including Muslims) unveiled and dancing with men, everyone drinking raki, listening to music and enjoying their freedom—being subjected to some form of sharia law.  All I can be grateful for is that it won’t happen in my lifetime.

h/t: Jonathan

46 thoughts on “High Turkish official: there should be no female laughter in public

  1. We already knew there were deep problems with Turkey. (Is Why Evolution Is True available in Turkish?) The present government has politicised the Turkish Academy of science, and has shown hostility (don’t remember the details) to books on evolution. The previous, secular, government actually recruited the Institute for Creation Research to advise on its curriculum, and their education Minister used the argument that evolution must be doubtful, because in 150 years the theory has not graduated to the status of a law.

    Taner Edis is the expert on all this.

      1. Nice link – its very impressive that 300,000 women responded by laughing. Great for them.

        Question for someone who may know the language or culture: does the Dep’s insult of these women as “[those who] can’t wait to climb poles when they see one” mean something different in Turkish, or is it exactly the sort of derogatory “they’re all sluts” remark it sounds like?

        1. I agree. Mockery is one of the most effective weapons!

          As for the poles bit, I was confused by that too. Although I did laugh at one of the comments that jokingly asked why they were all going to Poland on holiday.

  2. He sounds like a log of fundie Christians in the US. Sharia? Dominionism? The only difference is the wrapping.

  3. I wonder what his stance is on women farting in public?

    It’d be tempting to rip one off in his direction.

    1. I’d do it but I’m sure I’d just be shown as one of those terrible western women who talks to men she isn’t related to or married to & looks them straight in the eye without blushing or averting her gaze.

      1. How dare you! The Prophet, peace be upon Him, finds your lack of flatulent self-restraint and obvious disregard of Holy Toilet Paper dispensation an abomination towards Allah Almighty, peace be upon Him too, and you should recant your infidel ways.

        PS. I just got a facebook feed from the Dawkins page and saw your name. High five! 🙂


        1. LOL that’s why I stay away from Muslim countries – I don’t want to be killed for farting. 🙂

          Thanks re: article. I was surprised when Veronica told me it got picked up.

  4. OT, but related to the issue of Islam and also related to Jerry’s posts about Israel, I found this article pretty eyebrow-raising.

    10-second version: there’s strong (though indirect) evidence that Egypt, SA, Jordan, and the UAE are backing Israel in the current fight against Hamas. Maybe not with direct support, but in other ways. I find that interesting, to say the least.

  5. Turkey has always struggled for its secularism – always beating back those that want to make it a theocracy. I hope secularism wins.

    Why is it that these extreme religions always inflict misery? No laughing, no dancing, always think about end times!

    1. His laughter comment is so wierd and unusual – even for the uptight puritan crowd – that I have to think it’s personal. I.e., some woman laughed at him in public, he felt embarrased, and so now he thinks it must be stopped.

      1. Or his wife/girlfriend has a good sense of humour and all his friends like her better than him.

          1. Dude, it’s a joke based on absurdity (applying western situations to those with non western attitudes)

    2. maybe religions spread when the followers are in misery. You hardly find a verse in praise of good hearty laughter just as you hardly find any in praise of doubt

      1. Ecclesiastes 7.2-4:

        2 It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.

        3 Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.

        4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

        Your point about religion spreading when people are miserable is empirically valid (the opium of the masses). Also to be considered is that religious leadership tends to attract people who want to run other people’s lives, and, if I recall the quote correctly, “The tyrant fears the press’s mockery more than he fears the assassin’s bullet”.

      1. Yeah but sadly they got it wrong in The Name of the Rose. Aristotle’s lost Second Book of Comedy was a treatise on what makes good comedy like his First Book of Tragedy (not lost) was a treatise on what makes good tragedy. So, the monks wouldn’t have found it funny at all when they translated it.

  6. Apparently, this was a mistranslation. Minister Okstar did not say women shouldn’t laugh in public – he said that they shouldn’t show their titters.

      1. FEMEN has taken to doing topless demonstrations against islamic oppression of women, amongst other things. Some have been critical of their choice to protest topless in public spaces, but I’m just glad that there is another group with the temerity to publicly criticize political islam.

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