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Turkish women laugh online to protest remarks

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc poses ahead of the presidential elections in Ankara on July 24, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ADEM ALTAN

ISTANBUL: Hundreds of Turkish women posted pictures of themselves laughing on Twitter Wednesday to protest comments by Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, who had urged women not to laugh in public to “protect moral values.”Melda Onur, a lawmaker from the main opposition party CHP, said on Twitter that Arinc’s comments portrayed laughing as a dishonorable act and left women exposed to violence.

Arinc criticized the media Wednesday for taking his comments out of context and focusing on a small part of his speech, in which he said he advised both men and women to adopt “ethical behaviors.”

“Some people criticize me by picking up only a part of an 1 1/2-hour speech. What a baseless and disgusting claim. People who have listened to all of my comments have realized this,” Arinc was quoted as saying by Hurriyet newspaper.

“I believe I have made a useful speech,” he said. “If I had only said women should not laugh then I have done something irrational. But my speech was about manners and moral rules.”

Opponents accuse Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government of ruling in an increasingly authoritarian manner and meddling in people’s private lives.

Arinc, one of the co-founders of Erdogan’s AK Party, said this week at a celebration of Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan: “The woman should have chastity ... She should not laugh in front of everyone and not be inviting in her behavior. She should protect her honor.”

One women’s organization said it would file a criminal complaint against the deputy PM.

His comments, in which he also criticized television soap operas for promoting decadence, drew criticism from opposition presidential candidate Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu as well. He tweeted: “Our country needs our women to laugh and to hear everyone’s joyful laughter more than ever.”

Arinc waded into a new controversy Wednesday by attacking women who he said could not resist pole dancing.

In televised comments he said: “There are women who leave on holiday without their husbands and others who don’t have self-control and can’t stop themselves from climbing up a pole.”

“Anyone can live like this. I can’t be angry against you but I can just have pity for you,” he said.

Arinc’s latest remarks appear to have been prompted by the wife of a prominent Turkish footballer who posted a picture of herself pole dancing on Instagram with the slogan “when I see a pole, I just can’t resist.”

The woman, the wife of Caner Erkin, a prominent player for Istanbul giants Fenerbahce, has since deleted the image from her account.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 31, 2014, on page 10.

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Summary

Hundreds of Turkish women posted pictures of themselves laughing on Twitter Wednesday to protest comments by Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, who had urged women not to laugh in public to "protect moral values". Melda Onur, a lawmaker from the main opposition party CHP, said on Twitter that Arinc's comments portrayed laughing as a dishonorable act and left women exposed to violence.

Arinc criticized the media Wednesday for taking his comments out of context and focusing on a small part of his speech, in which he said he advised both men and women to adopt "ethical behaviors".

Arinc waded into a new controversy Wednesday by attacking women who he said could not resist pole dancing.


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