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BLIND SPOT > Watch out for girls on the lawn

BELGİN AKALTAN - belgin.akaltan@hdn.com.tr

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This is what happens 30 years later: Binali Yıldırım’s wife sits and eats alone during
a rest stop near Samsun in 2005, completely ignored by her husband and other men. DHA photo

This is what happens 30 years later: Binali Yıldırım’s wife sits and eats alone during a rest stop near Samsun in 2005, completely ignored by her husband and other men. DHA photo

This topic may have escaped the notice of our foreign readers and/or Turkish readers who are distant from social media. It was among Turkey’s Twitter trend topics this week.

The incident happened at a ball organized for the alumni of Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ) in the Aegean city of İzmir. Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım, being an İTÜ graduate himself, was invited and given the floor. He started explaining his life: He was born in 1955 in the eastern province of Erzincan, he is a naval engineer, he has worked in the public sector all his life and traveled all around the world.

He told the İTÜ alumni, “After I sat the University Entrance Examination and received my scores, I was torn between two options: Either I would attend Bosphorus (Boğaziçi) University or Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ), one or the other.”

“I first visited Bosphorus University. I took a look and saw that it was a different world. Different buildings, etc, and then young people, girls and boys were sitting together on the lawn! I was taken aback. I told to myself, ‘I will go off the road here.’ And then I selected Istanbul Technical University.”

I quote Mustafa Mutlu from daily Vatan in his column, “Here, this is the mentality ruling our country!”:

“Would you look at the words a government minister is saying about one of the most prestigious universities of Turkey? As if that university is not an institution that has been the dream school of most of the young people in Turkey for 150 years, but as if it was a center of prostitution! The problem: Girls and boys were sitting side by side on the lawn.”

Mustafa Mutlu asked, “Well, is İTÜ a sharia university? Aren’t there female and male students sitting side by side in the garden, canteen, cafeteria and classrooms at İTÜ?” The columnist also regrets that the İTÜ girls at that time did not “derail” him, “If you, İTÜ girls, had “derailed” him at that time, then we would not have this kind of a bullshitting minister today.”

Mutlu pointed out, “Well, that young Binali is from a rural area. Obviously there was huge gender apartheid from where he came. For that reason, it is normal to a certain extent that he is appalled at Bosphorus University, which has always been the most democratic, the most egalitarian and the freest university in Turkey. However, it is scary that today’s Binali, despite the fact that 40 years have passed and he is occupying one of the most important positions in the government, still has the same mentality.”

Mutlu issued a request: “Dear female Boğaziçi graduates and indeed İTÜ graduates: You have to kiss and hug Mr. Binali Yıldırım and “derail” him the first instance you see him. Now, you owe this to us." 

There is no space left here for the hilarious tweets of Boğaziçi and İTÜ graduates "going off the road";just one: A female Boğaziçi graduate tweeted to her husband, “If you had not gone off the road by sitting next to me on the Boğaziçi lawn, then you would have become a government minister by now!”

After Binali Yıldırım chose İTÜ, he got married while he was in his second year. The couple had their first child in his third year at İTÜ, and another in the fourth year. The minister, who was against girls and boys sitting together on the lawn, must have done God knows what else, but for sure more than “sitting together” while he was still a student.

One tweet by user M.C. read, “He chose İTÜ instead of Boğaziçi but got married in his second year. His motto must have been: Do not sit, make love.”

Yes, the picture is of the wife of Binali Yıldırım, Seniha Yıldırım, when she sat alone and ate alone at a break on the roadside in the northern city of Samsun in 2005, while she was traveling with her husband. There is a whole table of “men,” including her husband, who act as if she does not exist.

This is one of the saddest pictures I have seen in my life. As a woman, as a modern woman, as a modern Turkish woman, I had never felt so sorry for my kind before I saw this picture. I felt humiliated; I felt sorry for everybody, also the guys in the picture. There is a bitter feeling in my stomach that has refused to leave since 2005. (Well, actually since 2001…)

This is what happens 30 years after you avoid sitting with girls.

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February/02/2013

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