Turkey has recently drawn criticism for crackdowns on individual freedoms and democratic processes, including banning websites to allegedly rigging elections. The incidents keep coming, and some are more laughable than others.
Earlier this week at an event celebrating the end of Ramadan, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arinc said that women should avoid the immoral act of laughing in public.
"The woman should have chastity ... She should not laugh in front of everyone and not be inviting in her behavior," said Arinç. "She should protect her honor."
In response, hundreds of Turkish women took to Instagram and Twitter to protest Arinc‘s ridiculous statement, posting pictures of themselves laughing under the hashtags #kahkaha (laughter) and #direnkahkaha (resist laughter).
Arinc, a founding member of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP), also said that Turkish citizens should watch fewer soap operas, which spread immoral values, and that women should communicate with each other in person rather than over the phone.
The statement prompted reactions on social media from other politicians as well, including Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Erdogan's main opponent in the upcoming presidential election, who tweeted, "More than anything else, our country needs women to smile and to hear everybody's laughter."
Erdogan's government has come under fire lately for curbing freedoms in the secular, predominantly Muslim country.
Following the leaks of multiple recordings between Erdogan and top officials in the spring, YouTube and Twitter were banned by the government in an effort to stymie the recordings' circulation. The ban on Twitter was deemed unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court of Turkey and lifted after only two weeks. The ban on YouTube, on the other hand, was held until early June.
Last week, 20 police officers were charged with illegal wiretapping of government officials, and are being tied to the leaked recordings of the spring.
Since he was elected in 2002, the reputation of Erdogan's AKP party has shifted from moderate to conservative, with detractors claiming that Erdogan's behavior is increasingly beginning to resemble that of an Islamist dictator. Such sentiments, along with the recent news of government corruption, spurred the widespread protests of summer and fall of 2013.
Ihsanoglu, the joint candidate of five different parties, is running on a platform of strict secularism.
Photo via Twitter
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