Thank you for your concern, Mr. Arınç, but we will laugh where we damn well please. Speaking at an Eid al-Fitr holiday gathering on Monday in Bursa, Turkey’s deputy minister, Bülent Arınç, from the conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP), lamented that “a man should be moral but women should be moral as well, they should know what is decent and what is not decent… She should not laugh loudly in front of all the world and should preserve her decency at all times.”
As reported in The Guardian, he went on to criticize the direction modern Turkish society is heading in, a society marked by drugs and prostitution. He also attacked popular Turkish soap operas as they encourage wayward lifestyles.
Oh, but it got better. He proceeded to imitate “a Turkish woman on her mobile” and said: “‘Is there nothing else going on? What happened to Ayse’s daughter? When’s the wedding?’ People should say these things face to face.”
The reaction on social media was gold. Defying Arınç’s frankly ridiculous comments about not only women laughing in public but also the seeming overuse of modern technology, women and men from all over the country posted selfies of themselves laughing on Twitter with the hashtags #direnkahkaha (resist laughter) and #direnkadin (resist woman). One Twitter user put it well: “Laughing is not allowed in Turkey’s Orwellian dystopian future.”
Political journalist Ece Temelkuran posted the above laughing selfie on Twitter with the words: “Everyone laughs. I laugh like this.” She then proceeded to retweet dozens of other laughing selfies of Turkish women.
The Prime Minister blocked Twitter earlier this year so maybe this (in my opinion brilliant) social media campaign will spark a similar reaction? Orwellian future, indeed.
Title image source: onedio.com