News / Europe

Anti-Cohabitation Call Sparks Political Storm in Turkey

Students march during a rally to protest against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent remarks suggesting his Islamic-oriented government could segregate female and male students living in private accommodation, in Ankara, Turkey, Nov. 9, 2013.
Students march during a rally to protest against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent remarks suggesting his Islamic-oriented government could segregate female and male students living in private accommodation, in Ankara, Turkey, Nov. 9, 2013.
Dorian Jones
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has provoked a political storm in Turkey over his call to crackdown on mixed sex student accommodations. The prime minister claims the move is in response to concerned parents. But the crackdown has raised questions about whether the Islamic-rooted ruling party is pursuing a religious agenda.
 
Erdogan says cohabitation is intolerable and said the government had already shut down mixed accommodations in 75 percent of state-run student dormitories.

Erdogan's critics have repeatedly accused him of intrusiveness into private life, from his advice to women on the number of children they should have to his views on abortion.

A student, who lives with her boyfriend, said she believes the move is part of a religious agenda.

"They don’t like men and women together because they are an Islamic party and these things always happen in Turkey and actually all of them are about the women and women’s body," she said. "I don’t think this issue is about men. It’s only about women and a woman's life."

Erdogan, whose AK Party has its roots in Islamist politics, denies any religious motives, claiming it’s in response to calls from concerned parents.

But throughout the prime minister’s decade-long rule, he has been dogged by accusations he is undermining the 90-year-old secular state, a charge he steadfastly has rejected.

Ayfe Bartu Candan, a sociology professor at Istanbul’s Bosphorus University, said the latest move threatens to re-open the debate over his government’s agenda.

"For secularists, their immediate response is 'well of course. This is who he really is and this was his real agenda, and now he is making public,'" Bartu said.

According to observers, this latest controversy comes just after a political consensus had been reached over the deeply divisive issue of lifting a ban on female parliamentary deputies wearing religious headscarves in parliament.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party -- the party of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who founded the modern secular republic -- accuses the prime minister of trying to resurrect the conflict between the secular and religious ahead of an 18-month election cycle that culminates in general elections in 2015. But Erdogan insists he is following an agenda of “conservative democracy.”

Pinar Ilkkaracan, co-founder of Turkey’s Women for Women's Human Rights, said the latest move is part of a trend aimed at controlling women.

"The main pillar of their conservatism is the control of sexuality of women’s bodies and this also is now a statement of the lives of youths, especially of girls," Ilkkaracan said. "Because he literally is accusing them of being immoral. He said the word 'immoral'. This is a country where honor crimes are taking place. Where girls can be killed because of honor."

The prime minister received rare criticism from some of his own supporters.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc sought to play down the controversy saying it was not on the government’s agenda. But his comment  was rebuked by Mr. Edogan, who insisted it was. Some influential columnists in the country’s powerful pro Islamist media have also questioned the move.

Legal experts claim there is no existing law that could enforce a ban on mixed student cohabitation. But local media has reported that police have started to raid student homes.

In addition to introducing legislation, Erdogan is also considering calling on neighbors to report students. Sociologist Bartu Candan warns such statements will add to existing tensions in Turkish society.

"We have been hearing about landlords or neighbors complaining and threatening these students and now they will have more courage and probably, I am afraid, the legal framework to justify any intervention. And, that is the part I find most scary," Bartu said.

The European Union has expressed in statements that it's concerned,  saying governments have no right to interfere in adults living arrangements.  Despite such criticism, the Turkish prime minister shows no signs of backing down.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
November 11, 2013 1:17 PM
Just as well. This is a proof of the fact that islam cannot even control its own if placed side by side with other conditions. All religions have intrinsic measures and teaching to keep children of adherents follow the moral standing of the religion. But islam uses only force to teach, convert and correct. Imagine parents killing their own children in the name of blasphemy - maybe they want to swap religion.

I have written about this before, and here I repeat it, if islam is opened up to compete with other religions, its own inbuilt fallacies will knock it out. Right now it's having followers who are mainly people who do not understand but must follow, because even to ask question exposes one to danger of being branded infidel, enemy of god, or accused of blasphemy. Seeing the trouble the religion faces in competition with other religions, secularism and dissent, why not, the Ottoman emperor will do something to retain the status quo. In Nigeria it has given rise to boko haram insurgency - a secret terrorist group raised in the religion to force others despoiling the religion out of its neighborhood. But it cannot stem the drift of the population. No one forces anyone into heaven. If anyone will go to heaven - as the religion pretends to teach - then the person will merit it not by force of the government or parents.

Unless Erdogan is trying to preserve the seven virgins he will marry in heaven when he kills some infidel. I laugh at the madness. What will a spirit be doing with marriage in eternity? The essence of marriage is for continuity of life on earth. What is the necessity for marriage in heaven? One of those fallacies that show how vague the religion is. And Erdogan will struggle to keep his seven virgins from here, having eye-marked them for the D-day. Sorry Mr. Erdogan, they have rejected you. They may become old before the time. But the audacity of hope is 'The Beuatiful Ones Are Yet Unborn! Take solace in that. In heaven, A.... will find you different new virgins. So don't fret about these ones, they are not for you. After all you're not about to check out.., or are you? However, by this action

Mr. Erdogan may need to be tried to find out many people he has killed as infidels in keeping with the tenets of the religion for which he already demanding his virgins in heaven right from here. He may need to transit to heaven from a prison at the Hague for violation of human rights - if he's found guilty of killing as PM or Turkey, that is crime against humanity, genocide or ethnic cleansing. One of these laws will hold him, after all he hates infidels - who may be non-adherents of his religion.

In Response

by: Anonymous
November 11, 2013 10:42 PM
Great observations. I was under the impression that they were 72 virgins not only 7?

I would not kill myself for just 7, LOL

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