She laughs best, who laughs last

5 Aug

For a moment, I thought he was joking, the Turkish vice-Prime Minister Bülent Arınç. Last week he said that women should not laugh in public. Hilarious isn’t it? But unfortunately it turned out not to be a joke, or even a hoax. The guy was dead serious. Why women shouldn’t laugh? Because laughing women supposedly are haram, according to Arınç’s version of Islam. Yes ladies and gentlemen, female happiness is filthy, sinful and shameful. “Where are our girls who blush, bow their heads and turn their eyes away when looked at, as a symbol of chastity?” said Mister Morals, who also lashed out against mobile phones and growing consumption in his country, while he was at it.
Yet another example of religiously inspired misogyny in the country that prides itself on being a secular democracy since the days of Atatürk.
Turkish Airlines caused quite a stir last year, when they announced that female cabin crew were not to wear bright colored lipstick, as it would harm their ‘visual integrity’. Modest pastels, maybe, but not ruby red or hot pink, because, just like laughing, that’s obviously terribly haram. The decision was quickly overturned, but it set the tone.
Right up conservative Prime Minister Erdogan’s alley, who once said he did not believe in gender equality. The same Erdogan who compared abortion to murder and who called on all women to have at least three children. The same Erdogan who once told a female colleague women at the top are going against human nature.
This week, Turks go to the ballot box, also in the Netherlands, for the first presidential elections by popular vote. Favorite candidate? The same Erdogan.
It would be enough to drain a smile from one’s face. But not those horribly happy Turkish women. They laughed at vice prime minister Arınç, with the hilarious hashtag #khakha, sharing hundreds of thousands of selfies this week. I say: keep laughing ladies! Cause she laughs best, who laughs last.

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