Senior government official Bulent Arinc told a female lawmaker ‘as a woman, you should shut up’ during an emergency session in the Turkish parliament. The televised incident prompted outrage and demands for an apology.
The altercation took place on Wednesday night, while the deputy prime minister Arinc was holding a speech justifying the government’s decision to attack Kurdish militants in Iraq. He grew increasingly agitated with a group of pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) members who were loudly mocking his comments.
“Madam shut up! As a woman, you should shut up!” he yelled at a female lawmaker Nursel Aydogan on live television.
His remarks immediately provoked a flood of criticism on social media, with hashtags such as #BirKadinOlarakSusmayacagiz (as women we are not going to be silent) #KadinDusmaniArinc (Arinc is an enemy of women).
Both HDP and Republican People’s Party (CHP), demanded an apology from the government official.
“We as the CHP strongly condemn the sexist, discriminatory and humiliating comments violating women’s rights,” said CHP deputy leader Selin Sayek Boke.
“Making such a comment under the roof of parliament is unacceptable. We invite him to apologize,” she added.
Nursel Aydogan, to whom Arinc directed her remarks, said: “I don’t take it personally. It is an insult against all women including their own (ruling party) lawmakers.”
A history of gaffes
This is not the first time Arinc has drawn attention and ridicule from women’s-rights activists.
In a widely publicized incident last year, he publicly stated that women should protect their “chasteness” and not laugh in public.
This triggered an online response from women around the world, including British actress Emma Watson, posting pictures of themselves laughing.
Critics of the ruling AKP party, of which Arinc is a member, say it is eroding women’s rights in Turkey.