One of Turkey’s top officials says women should refrain from laughing out loud in public.
A woman “should not laugh loudly in front of all the world and should preserve her decency at all times,“ Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Monday during an Eid el-Fitr meeting, which marked the end of the Muslim period of fasting, Ramadan.
"A man should be moral but women should be moral as well, they should know what is decent and what is not decent," Britain's Guardian newspaper reported Arinc as saying.
Arinc is a founding member of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (or AKP), whose moderate Islamist politics are steadily transforming a country founded upon secularism. The comments point to AKP’s appeal to conservative Turks. Erdogan, who is running for president, enjoys support among middle-class, observant Muslims.
The laughter comment in particular sparked an outcry on Turkish social media, including from Erdogan’s top challenger in the polls, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. He tweeted, "We need to hear the happy laughter of women,” according to a translation from the Guardian.
Another target of Arinc’s disdain included soap operas (which is notable, given the immense popularity of Turkish soap operas throughout the Middle East). He also blasted what he perceived to be a culture of excess within Turkey, English-language Hurriyet Daily News reported, criticizing everything from talking on cellphones instead of face-to-face (women “spending hours on the phone to swap recipes") to driving unnecessarily (even if the “river Nile was filled with petrol,” there wouldn’t be enough gas for all the cars on the roads).