30 Jul 2014

Turkish women say #kahkaha to minister’s ‘laughing ban’

A laughing matter? Pictures of women chuckling and guffawing sweep Twitter in protest at Turkey’s deputy prime minister, who says women should not laugh in public.

Turkey’s deputy prime minister has provoked a swarm of protest after saying women should not laugh in public, causing women in Turkey and elsewhere to tweet pictures of themselves in the act in defiance.

In a speech on Monday to mark the end of Ramadan, Bulent Arinc railed against the “moral decline” in Turkey, later denouncing the excessive use of cars, the influence of Turkish soap operas and even the popular use of mobile phones, with women “spending hours on the phone to swap recipes”.

In his speech he said a man “should be moral, but women should be moral as well, they should know what is decent and what is not decent”, adding: “She should not laugh loudly in front of all the world and should preserve her decency at all times.”

His comments spawned the hashtags #kahkaha – which means “laughter” in Turkish – as well as the ironic taunts #direnkahkaha (resist laughter) and #direnkadin (resist woman).

Mr Arinc is one of the co-founders of Turkey’s ruling Islamic-influenced Justice and Development party (AKP). The party’s leader and Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been accused of trying to wield religious influence over the state.

Ekmeleddin Ä°hsanoglu, the main opposition candidate to Mr Erdogan, reacted on Twitter by saying Turkey “needs women and everyone’s laughter more than anything” – but the female population, and its supporters, have taken matters into their own hands