Co-ed housing row inopportune and waste of time, says Turkish business group chair
Sefer LEVENT ISTANBUL – Hürriyet
Muharrem Yılmaz said that such debates were harming the country’s stability by further polarizing society. Hürriyet PhotoThe chairman of Turkey’s leading businessmen association, Muharrem Yılmaz, has criticized the over-politicization of the debate on mixed-student housing, describing it as inopportune and a waste of time.
“This inopportune row, which we consider as occupying too much space on [Turkey’s political] agenda, carries marks of the 1980 Constitution’s features promoting centralization and standardization of the individual,” Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TÜSİAD) told daily Hürriyet in remarks published on Nov. 8.
The debate was triggered after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed his opposition against female and male students living under the same roof, subsequently leading to a public uproar. He also announced that the government was ready to take the necessary legal steps to prevent such accommodation arrangements.
Yılmaz said that such debates were harming the country’s stability by further polarizing society, adding that an individual’s right to privacy was constitutionally protected.
“While we are awaiting the drafting of a Constitution which focuses on the individual and the widening of their rights, such a row has us waste our time, concurrently harming the stability that we require and providing a platform for societal polarization,” Yılmaz said, adding that TÜSİAD’s approach on the issue was based on “fundamental rights and freedoms.”
“Whether it is democratic conservatism, social democracy or liberal democracy, all in all these are all political stances. Fundamental rights and freedoms can’t change, much less be regulated according to a political stance. These rights are universal, inalienable and it is the state’s primary duty to protect them,” Yılmaz said.
“[The time of] the approach aimed at the standardization of the individual is over. We believe that we won’t go regress to such a state,” he added.
Erdoğan’s remarks were criticized by a wide array of commentators and politicians, decrying the government’s interference in the private life of the individual.