Turkey’s media watchdog absolves Turkish lawyer for ‘pregnant women’ remarks

Turkey’s media watchdog absolves Turkish lawyer for ‘pregnant women’ remarks

Turkey’s media watchdog absolves Turkish lawyer for ‘pregnant women’ remarks

Women staged protests following remarks of lawyer and Sufi thinker İnançer. AA Photo

Lawyer and Sufi thinker Ömer Tuğrul İnançer’s contentious comments that pregnant women’s presence in public is “disgraceful” fall within the remit of freedom of expression, meaning they warrant no penalty, Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) ruled today.

İnançer had said on July 25 that announcing pregnancy with a flourish of trumpets was against Turkish civility and that pregnant women should not wander the streets with large bellies.

“First of all, it is not aesthetic. After seven or eight months of pregnancy, future mothers go out with their husbands by car to get some fresh air. And they go out in the evening hours. But now, they are all on television. It’s disgraceful. It is not realism, it is immorality,” İnançer had said July 25 on a Ramadan program on state television channel TRT 1.

After İnançer’s remarks, the program’s host said, “May God be pleased with you,” prompting further anger toward the state broadcaster, who many accuse of being a mouthpiece of the government. TRT officials announced after the program that the comments expressed belonged only to İnançer and did not reflect the official view of the station.

After receiving several complaints, RTÜK opened a probe on the remarks, concluding that neither İnançer nor TRT 1 should be fined. However, two RTÜK board members hailing from the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) quota objected to the decision.

The report stated that even though there was some hardness in the Sufi thinker’s words that could hurt pregnant women, it did not contain elements of humiliation, pressure or hate speech toward pregnant women.

“İnançer has indicated that according to his perception, announcing pregnancy openly was not appropriate and it was not aesthetic that pregnant women strolled on the streets,” read the report. “These should be considered within the scope of freedom of expression.”

A petition to punish TRT 1 signed by CHP deputy Aylin Nazlıaka, Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy Pervin Buldan and the Association for the Support of Women Candidates (KADER) was not mentioned in the report.