Click to read the article in Turkish
President and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has continued to make aggressive and targeting remarks about the 17th Feminist Night March held in İstiklal Avenue in Taksim on the occasion of March 8 International Women’s Day.
In a speech that he made in Adana on March 10, Erdoğan said, “They behaved rudely towards the call to prayer by whistling,” to which the Initiative for the 17th Feminist Night March responded by stating, “Don’t distort it: Our revolt is against police barricades.”
After the speech of Erdoğan, a group of bearded and cloaked men marched to the area where the night march was held, shouting “Allahu Akbar” and chanting the slogan, “May the hands reaching out for the call to prayer be broken.” Another group also attempted to march to the İstanbul Provincial Office of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Tarlabaşı.
While the allegations of Erdoğan hit the headlines of several pro-government newspapers yesterday (March 11), a number of columnists close to the AKP as well as its İstanbul MP Mustafa Yeneroğlu have taken a critical stance towards his statements.
AKP Spokesperson Ömer Çelik, on the other hand, supported Erdoğan by stating that “they had the statements and tweets regarding March 8 analyzed and confirmed that some people indeed protested the call to prayer.”
President Erdoğan made another statement in an election rally in Turkey’s southeastern province of Hakkari yesterday and continued his aggressive attitude towards the Feminist Night March. He claimed that there are Republican People’s Party (CHP) and HDP behind the feminists:
“Look, we are expecting that Hakkari say ‘Enough is enough’ to these indecent people who showed hostility towards the call to prayer, towards the flag. Who is behind this herd which booed, whistled, tried to silence the call to prayer by blowing whistles and knew no bounds in disrespect with their indecent banners? There is the CHP, there is the HDP…”
Further in his speech, Erdoğan also accused the participants of Feminist Night March of “being enemies of the values of the nation”:
“The ones who are the enemies of call to prayer are also the enemies of all values of the nation. My brother and sister from Hakkari that I know of do not give them the opportunity.”
Since 2003, march has been held and call to prayer recited
The Feminist Night March has been held in İstanbul on each March 8 since 2003, that is, four months after the AKP came to power on November 3, 2002.
Gathering in front of the French Cultural Center at 7.30 p.m., women could march along the İstiklal Avenue without any police intervention.
In other words, while the calls to evening and prayers were recited from the mosque in the side street of the French Cultural Center as well as from the nearby Ağa Mosque at around 7.10 and 8.30 p.m. (and at around 8.10 and 9.30 p.m. before the permanent summer time was adopted in 2016), women could hold the Feminist Night March by blowing whistles, applauding, singing songs and chanting slogans.
* Photograph: Murat Çetinmühürdar – Hakkari/AA