Ruling AKP lawmaker shocks with sexist comments to female journalists at Parliament

Ruling AKP lawmaker shocks with sexist comments to female journalists at Parliament

Ruling AKP lawmaker shocks with sexist comments to female journalists at Parliament

AKP lawmaker Zeyid Aslan (C) was calmed down with difficulty by deputies when the opposition expressed indignation over his sexist comments. AA photo

A lawmaker from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) caused indignation after lashing out with sexist comments to female reporters at Parliament in Ankara July 11.

Zeyid Aslan, who had previously sparked outrage after he insulted and swore at a main opposition deputy two months ago, became enraged after a woman reporter told him that a picture taken while he was sleeping in the Parliament's garden had been printed in a daily newspaper.

Aslan went to the table, where other reporters, all women, were sitting and told them that he would do everything he could to ban their entry to Parliament.

"Do you think that what you are doing is journalism? We are human, we get tired," Aslan was quoted as telling the women reporters. "If I were to take a picture showing between your legs and printed it just as 'This is the natural way they are’ ... I would be the one immoral, wouldn't I? But you still call what you do journalism," he said.

Following the incident, the Association of Parliament Reporters condemned Aslan's attitude, urging the AKP deputy to apologize.

"Parliament reporters have been targeted by verbal harassment of a ruling party deputy. We condemn Aslan, who used insulting and obscene words. We call him to apologize immediately to the women journalists," the statement said.

"Parliament is a public space where all activities are subject to the people's supervision through the work of Parliament reporters. Parliament reporters are struggling for the people's right to information under difficult conditions," the statement added.

AKP's deputy parliamentary group chair apologizes

Many opposition lawmakers also asked AKP deputies for explanation on the incident. "[Aslan] has uttered very shameful words. We condemn him and expect a response from the AKP's parliamentary group chair," Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy parliamentary group chair Pervin Buldan said.

Following the strong reactions, Aslan told lawmakers the he did not mean to stigmatize women with his words. "My words had nothing to do with women," he said.

Despite Aslan's refusal to apologize, his attitude was condemned by the AKP's new parliamentary group deputy chair, Mihrimah Belma Satır, who took the floor after him. "I want to say that I reject Aslan's words on my own behalf and on the behalf of the AKP's female lawmakers," Satır said. Aslan was seen leaving the assembly room as many opposition deputies thanked Satır for her apology. 

Family Minister Fatma Şahin also condemned Aslan's words. 

Aslan had previously been sent to the Disciplinary Committee after he insulted a Republican People Party's (CHP) deputy.