Turkish women ‘laugh’ off PM’s comments

Turkish women ‘laugh’ off leader’s comments

ISTANBUL: Hundreds of Turkish women posted pictures of themselves laughing on Twitter on 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 on 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.”

Arinc, one of the cofounders 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.”