Pregnant women gather to protest Sufi thinker who urged them not to 'stroll in public'
In Taksim Square and in Kadıköy on the Asian side, pregnant women and their husbands, who wore pillows under their t-shirts, defied Ömer Tuğrul İnançer by chanting 'our bodies are ours.' DHA photo
Pregnant women gathered in Istanbul July 25 to protest the statements of a lawyer and Sufi thinker who said on state television that it was "disgraceful" for expectant women to show themselves in public.
In Taksim Square and in Kadıköy on the Asian side, pregnant women and their husbands, who wore pillows under their t-shirts, defied Ömer Tuğrul İnançer's opposition to them "strolling around" by chanting "our bodies are ours" in two separate demonstrations.
"Announcing pregnancy with a flourish of trumpets is against our civility. [They] should not stroll in the streets with such bellies. First of all, it is not aesthetic," İnançer had said during a daily special iftar program on TRT.
After İnançer's TV appearance, Twitter users denounced his words under the hashtag #resistpregnant, which echoed the slogans of the Gezi protests, and called for demonstrations.
A spokeswoman of the Green and Left Future Party said in a statement that they held the mindset of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) responsible for İnançer's words. "This mindset which dares to dictate to us how many children we should have, how we should give birth, if we can have abortions and where we can go has been embodied once again by Ömer Tuğrul İnançer on TRT. We have known for some time the anti-woman policies of the AKP that feed this mindset. And we are opposing that," said Nadire Gül. "Pregnancy is not immoral, much less something to be ashamed of."
A woman in her eighth month of pregnancy who participated in the demonstration told reporters she thought at first that İnançer's statement was a "comedy." "I think that these sorts of statements are mishaps and they will apologize for it. As a pregnant woman I forgive İnançer for his statement but also hope that he will apologize to all of us and especially to the child in my belly," Eda Çatalcam said.
İnançer has defended himself following the reactions, but Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate issued a statement saying Islam required no isolation of women and that being a mother was a gift.
The statement still called on pregnant women to dress modestly. "However, pregnant women should be more careful about their dress – every woman should. [They] should not wear clothes showing their bellies or backs," it said.