Why kissing is bad (but rape can be just fine)

Why kissing is bad (but rape can be just fine)

Two years ago, the Prime Ministry’s department for family and social research carried out a survey of 5,765 students across Turkey, only to find that half of them did not have friends from both sexes and 60 percent faced domestic violence. About the same time a city bus driver in Istanbul had violently kicked out a young couple who had kissed during the journey. The angry driver had shouted after them: “This is not a sex bus!” Apparently, the pious Muslim driver thought babies were born after their parents kissed each other.

To protest against the incident, a group of maverick youths, all couples, launched a campaign to collectively take a bus on the same route and start kissing each other spontaneously. The “collective kissing protest” on the bus sparked another protest campaign – this time from a group of students from imam schools who vowed that “they would not allow sex on the street.”

Last week, when about 200 Turks held a mass kissing protest at an Ankara subway station in response to a public announcement at the same station that had requested passengers “to behave morally,” conservative religious groups attacked them with machetes, shouted religious slogans and injured some of the protestors. The metro incident in Ankara is merely a more violent repetition of the “sex bus affair” in Istanbul. Apparently, with the newfound state/police power they arrogantly rely on, the conservative Turks will never learn to mind their own business.

What are the core values conservative Muslims defend? Human dignity and morals? In a way. In an extremely corrupted way. The same groups of “sensitive Muslims” that are always on alert to get organized, beat and perhaps even kill kissing couples have never been seen to protest when, for instance, nearly 80,000 women faced domestic violence in the 18 months to Aug. 2011 alone; or when violence against women rose 1,400 percent during their beloved Islamist government’s first seven years in power. They never protested when men raped 102 women and 59 underage girls in 2011 alone.

I shall be more specific. Where, really, were the “good Muslims” and their machetes with blood dripping for their holy cause when a prominent, 78-year-old Islamist columnist confessed to having sex with a 14-year-old girl because “in Islam having sex with girls who reached puberty was allowed?” Where were our Muslim guardian angels? Why did not a single conservative Muslim “get offended and stand up” after the famous “Siirt affair?” Let me refresh memories.

In 2010, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s wife, Emine Erdoğan told an audience of dignitaries: “In our culture and civilization, which has a great historical background, family and motherhood are sacred.” Naturally, there was thundering applause. But ironically, only a few days before that speech, Turkey had been shaken by the news of alleged serial rapes in her native Siirt, including cases of adults raping minors and minors raping toddlers, and killing one.

The mayor of the same town said: “This is a small town and almost everyone is related to everyone. We’ve closed the case after consultations with the governor, the police and the prosecutor.” And a cabinet minister criticized the media for reporting rapes “that had occurred a year ago.”

The Siirt affair was the microcosm of conservative Muslim Turkey where, for instance, young boys and girls dating or holding hands in public would be “against honor.” So would miniskirts, tattoos, earrings on young men, alcohol, pork, smoking during Ramadan and even letting a female’s hair be seen by men. But raping minors and covering it up in collaboration with government authorities would not. Surely, reporting these incidents are also against our noble honor codes.

Child brides? They are fine. Buying brides? No problem. How many sheep is one 15-year-old girl worth? That will be up to the bargaining between the families. Violence toward women? Tradition. Killing your own daughter because she had been raped by a rascal? Family honor. Killing your own daughter because she had fallen in love with the boy from the neighborhood? Also a matter of family honor.

Kissing in public? We won’t let you have sex on the street!