Why all this has nothing to do with co-ed housing

Why all this has nothing to do with co-ed housing

I repeat: In the last decade, I have written unnecessarily thick and probably too boring chronicles in this column to explain, often with empirical evidence, why the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) cannot be a “Muslim case for liberty,” sincerely hoping that I was wrong. I still hope I am wrong, the AKP establishment, its Islamist ideology and their law enforcement officers permitting.

“In the past, the State viewed 17-18-year old (female) students as a threat because of their headscarves. They wanted to raise stereotypical human beings.” This quote belongs to one AKP bigwig, Numan Kurtulmuş, vice chair. 

You may take it as the joke of the year. But in fact, as it came only a few weeks before Mr. Erdoğan’s and his governors’ crackdown on male and female university students sharing the same houses, the quote is an excellent testimony to why the Islamist mind cannot tolerate cultural diversity and any social behavior not fully compliant with pious patterns of Islamic practice. 

Once again, I was shocked at other people’s shock over Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s unconstitutional war on co-ed student housing. What, really, did you expect, gentlemen, from a prime minister who only recently said: “No one should expect me to respect girl and boy students sitting on the same bench?” 

Were you terribly surprised when an AKP lawmaker proposed that boys and girls should study in separate schools? But that was generous. I think separate-sex kindergartens should also be considered. Just in case… I bet you would be awfully shocked if one day Mr. Erdoğan declared war on the sin that brings boys and girls to the same café table for a cup of coffee. Yes, the prime minister has the habit of punishing sin, not crime, through unconstitutional law enforcement. 

Fortunately, “sinning” does not include rape, child brides which account for one-third of all marriages, polygamous Islamic marriages, domestic violence, or “selling” daughters as wives – otherwise Mr. Erdoğan’s government would have to allocate the biggest chunk of the state budget, not to the religious affairs, but to building the world’s biggest prisons.

The latest controversy over opposite-sex students over 18 years old sharing a flat is not about opposite-sex students sharing a flat. Just like restricting the sale of alcohol to adults in every way possible, or Mr. Erdoğan’s 2004 attempt to criminalize adultery, it is a resurrection of Islamism in the shape of yet another flagship issue. 

In this column I have written endless times that the generic difference between a devout Muslim and an Islamist is the simple fact that a devout Muslim would abstain from alcohol and pork, whereas an Islamist would force others to abstain from alcohol and pork. A Muslim would peacefully fast during Ramadan; an Islamist would attack smokers during Ramadan. 

Once again, we are not discussing alcohol, fasting, pork, adultery or mixed-student private residences. We are discussing whether pious Muslims in an overwhelmingly Muslim country should have the right to enforce their Muslim practices upon a less pious or non-Muslim populace. The bottom line in every controversy is the simple dominant thinking that goes with a strictly anti-pluralistic “we-are-in-majority-and-our-faith-is-the-best-so-you-must-behave-like-we-do” tag, with a semi-visible “or-you-suffer-the-consequences” addendum.

I should be thankful to the prime minister for never having discredited this column. And he is perfectly consistent. Did he not publicly say that his political ambition is about raising devout generations? Is an 18-year-old girl sharing an extramarital home with a boy not unthinkable in pious Islamic practice? So, where is the uh-oh-ah-but-how-incredible surprise about Mr. Erdoğan’s illegitimate but de jure crackdown on mixed-sex housing?

Mr. Kurtulmuş was right when he said the state viewed 17-18 year-old girls wearing the headscarf as a threat and wanted to raise stereotypical (secular) human beings. It still has the same habit. This time it views 17-18 year-old girls and boys as a threat and wants to raise stereotypical (devout) human beings.

But before I could stop my laughter at Mr. Kurtulmus’s words, I came across a funnier statement when my radio quoted Mr. Erdoğan as roaring that “the EU does not let Turkey in just because we are Muslims!”